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Australian politics live: Victoria reports five new Covid cases as Melbourne goes on high alert Australian politics live: Victoria reports five new Covid cases as Melbourne goes on high alert
(32 minutes later)
A school student in Melbourne’s north tested positive to coronavirus, putting the suburbs of Dallas, Roxburgh Park, Broadmeadows, Preston and West Heidelberg on high alert. Follow liveA school student in Melbourne’s north tested positive to coronavirus, putting the suburbs of Dallas, Roxburgh Park, Broadmeadows, Preston and West Heidelberg on high alert. Follow live
Meanwhile
Back in estimates, Finance officials have confirmed that a would-be informant approached the department concerning the Sukkar/Andrews investigations.
The department supplied an email address to that person. Officials say no further information was ever provided to that address.
Don Farrell wonders if crucial information ended up not reaching the investigation. The officials repeat that they provided a point of contact and no information was ultimately forthcoming.
The officials won’t say who the would-be informant was – whether he was a member of staff. Finance again won’t go into detail, given information in these investigations is provided on a voluntary basis.
The finance minister Mathias Cormann notes this is an important convention.
Scott Morrison is asked about this comment he made yesterday during question time, in defence of John Howard and Josh Frydenberg assosicate Peter Crone being given a contract with the Bushfire Recovery Agency (which apparently was news to the head of that agency, Andrew Colvin)
Morrison is asked why he said that, given there are people who are about to lose their homes if they don’t get a job - is he saying Australia’s unemployed haven’t been able to find a job because they are not good enough?
Morrison:
Just visited the void for a few minutes as Michael McCormack took a dixer.
Moving on.
Once again, the Coalition has been in power in Australia for the past seven years.
It has been in power for 15 of the last 20 years.
Aged care is a federal responsibility.
When the royal commission reports about failures of “successive governments” it is absolutely right – but those governments have been largely led by the Coalition – and the last decade has been largely led by the people who are sitting in the house, on the right of the Speaker, today: the Coalition.
Anthony Albanese to Scott Morrison:
My question is to the prime minister: why has a government senator claimed that 668 deaths in aged care are not relevant on the same day the royal commission heard that one in five Australians in residential aged care have received substandard care and levels of abuse are, quote, “a national shame”. Why has the prime minister racked up $1tn of debt, $100bn of new spending in the budget but not fixed his broken aged care system, characterised by, according to the royal commission, neglect.
Morrison:
Julie Collins to Scott Morrison:
This morning at Senate estimates, Liberal senator Amanda Stoker repeatedly shut down questions about more than 680 deaths in aged care.
She made more time for tweets but that aged care deaths were not relevant. How on earth can the government claim that 680 deaths in aged care are not relevant but Twitter is?
Morrison:
The person in question is the media director for the royal commission – not a commissioner – and has impact on the evidence.
Over in Senate estimates, the Labor senator Don Farrell is exploring the recent investigations the Department of Finance undertook in relation to the conduct of Liberals Michael Sukkar and Kevin Andrews.
You can read the background to those investigations here. An official from the department says Finance has relevant records but doesn’t have statutory information gathering powers.
Farrell says these investigations rely on the subjects volunteering information. The official from Finance, David Da Silva, agrees that’s correct.
The department secretary Rosemary Huxtable notes the investigation ultimately went to an external party, and independent legal firm. Farrell asks what information the department expected to get from Sukkar and Andrews. What did the two Liberals provide?
“They provided information,” Huxtable says. She won’t go into detail. Another Finance official says the two were proactive.
“I can assure you we did a thorough review of our records,” Huxtable says. She says the law firm had further engagements with the two members.
Da Silva said the law firm sought information from the two members and they submitted information. Farrell asks whether the investigators accessed the key document about branch activities that set the first news reports in motion. Huxtable says “all relevant documents were considered by the investigator”.
It’s not clear what all relevant documents mean, and Huxtable is clear she doesn’t want to get into detail because information is furnished on a voluntary basis.
We have moved into the chamber – Richard Marles just did a “go Cats” 90-second statement, wearing a scarf.
Too soon for this Collingwood supporter.
Tony Smith, a Carlton supporter, says he is tempted to remove all the Richmond supporter gear from the chamber.
I do not know what to say about this.
Which party is the ball?
I know they are a favourite of MPs, particularly when they need to look ‘country’ but this may not have been the smoothest move.I know they are a favourite of MPs, particularly when they need to look ‘country’ but this may not have been the smoothest move.
As one gift guide says (with thanks to the SMH and the Age’s Eyrk Bagshaw for finding it).As one gift guide says (with thanks to the SMH and the Age’s Eyrk Bagshaw for finding it).
It is not common to give gifts in a business setting as they are generally seen as bribes. However, sometimes after the first meeting, simple gifts are exchanged.It is not common to give gifts in a business setting as they are generally seen as bribes. However, sometimes after the first meeting, simple gifts are exchanged.
Do not open the gift in front of the other person unless requested.Do not open the gift in front of the other person unless requested.
Appropriate Gifts – fruits, chocolates, sweets, a perfume that is not alcohol based.Appropriate Gifts – fruits, chocolates, sweets, a perfume that is not alcohol based.
Gifts to Avoid – knives, alcohol and personal gifts, and with white wrapping paper, as it symbolises death and mourning.Gifts to Avoid – knives, alcohol and personal gifts, and with white wrapping paper, as it symbolises death and mourning.
If giving foodstuffs, remain sensitive to the Muslim avoidance of “non-halal” foods and gelatin.If giving foodstuffs, remain sensitive to the Muslim avoidance of “non-halal” foods and gelatin.
We are now less than half an hour out from the last question time of the week.We are now less than half an hour out from the last question time of the week.
Estimates appears to have given plenty of material today.Estimates appears to have given plenty of material today.
The standoff over the delivery of Pauline Hanson-branded stubby holders to public housing residents in north Melbourne was “a very unusual one”, according to Nick Macdonald, Australia Post’s general counsel.The standoff over the delivery of Pauline Hanson-branded stubby holders to public housing residents in north Melbourne was “a very unusual one”, according to Nick Macdonald, Australia Post’s general counsel.
As mentioned earlier on the blog, this is the case in July in which Melbourne City Council intervened to block the delivery of 114 parcels to households of the locked down towers just days after Hanson publicly disparaged the residents.As mentioned earlier on the blog, this is the case in July in which Melbourne City Council intervened to block the delivery of 114 parcels to households of the locked down towers just days after Hanson publicly disparaged the residents.
Nine newspapers published an email in which Macdonald wrote to the council saying Australia Post would consider notifying the police or other relevant authorities if the packages were not delivered.Nine newspapers published an email in which Macdonald wrote to the council saying Australia Post would consider notifying the police or other relevant authorities if the packages were not delivered.
The independent senator Rex Patrick wanted to know how often Australia Post had written to somebody indicating it would engage the police if they failed to deliver parcels or letters.The independent senator Rex Patrick wanted to know how often Australia Post had written to somebody indicating it would engage the police if they failed to deliver parcels or letters.
While there had been times where mail vans had been broken into, it seems this situation is unprecedented.While there had been times where mail vans had been broken into, it seems this situation is unprecedented.
Macdonald said it was very unusual for Australia Post to release letters or parcels into the custody or control of a third party – in this case the City of Melbourne which had a role in managing the locked down public housing towers.Macdonald said it was very unusual for Australia Post to release letters or parcels into the custody or control of a third party – in this case the City of Melbourne which had a role in managing the locked down public housing towers.
The Senate estimates hearing into Australia Post has fired up over bonus payments.The Senate estimates hearing into Australia Post has fired up over bonus payments.
Australia Post told the hearing the total value of incentives awarded last financial year was $97.4m.Australia Post told the hearing the total value of incentives awarded last financial year was $97.4m.
The Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said Australia Post was “quasi public, quasi private” and she raised concern about bonuses clashing with community expectations during a recession: “I can understand why people are pissed off.”The Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said Australia Post was “quasi public, quasi private” and she raised concern about bonuses clashing with community expectations during a recession: “I can understand why people are pissed off.”
The Liberal party chair of the communications committee, David Fawcett, rebuked Hanson-Young, saying the “last bit of that was not appropriate for a parliamentary committee”.The Liberal party chair of the communications committee, David Fawcett, rebuked Hanson-Young, saying the “last bit of that was not appropriate for a parliamentary committee”.
Australia Post said the $97.4m in incentives was a total of several different parts, including $21.6m in “thank you” payments to frontline workers. The hearing was told the payment was made to 34,500 people such as posties, processing centres and drivers who had delivered through Covid’s “unprecedented times”. It was pegged at 1% of average earnings, so a postie might typically get $600.Australia Post said the $97.4m in incentives was a total of several different parts, including $21.6m in “thank you” payments to frontline workers. The hearing was told the payment was made to 34,500 people such as posties, processing centres and drivers who had delivered through Covid’s “unprecedented times”. It was pegged at 1% of average earnings, so a postie might typically get $600.
Contractors and licensees were also given gift cards totalling $2.6m in thank you payments, because they were not direct employees.Contractors and licensees were also given gift cards totalling $2.6m in thank you payments, because they were not direct employees.
Hanson-Young said her concern was not the thank you payments but those at the higher end.Hanson-Young said her concern was not the thank you payments but those at the higher end.
The hearing was told the second part of the incentives was a total of $60.5m to 2,500 participants in the Australia Post corporate incentive plan. These ranged from general managers to heads of departments to senior managers.The hearing was told the second part of the incentives was a total of $60.5m to 2,500 participants in the Australia Post corporate incentive plan. These ranged from general managers to heads of departments to senior managers.
Rosalind Croucher, the Australian Human Rights Commission president, has delivered a scorching opening statement warning about executive overreach in Australia’s Covid-19 response.Rosalind Croucher, the Australian Human Rights Commission president, has delivered a scorching opening statement warning about executive overreach in Australia’s Covid-19 response.
Croucher noted that many emergency measures were enacted through non-disallowable legislative instruments that don’t receive as much scrutiny as legislation. Scrutiny, if it comes, comes after the fact.Croucher noted that many emergency measures were enacted through non-disallowable legislative instruments that don’t receive as much scrutiny as legislation. Scrutiny, if it comes, comes after the fact.
She noted “extraordinary measures” including Henry the 8th clauses whereby regulations made by ministers can change the meaning of legislation agreed by parliament.She noted “extraordinary measures” including Henry the 8th clauses whereby regulations made by ministers can change the meaning of legislation agreed by parliament.
Croucher said that checks and balances on executive power are “integral to our democracy” but Australians have been “exposed to potentially unnecessary infringement” on their rights.Croucher said that checks and balances on executive power are “integral to our democracy” but Australians have been “exposed to potentially unnecessary infringement” on their rights.
Croucher said:Croucher said:
For example, she cites repatriation of Australians overseas – which appears to be a federal responsibility requiring consular assistance, but the states determine how many people can arrive through hotel quarantine in each jurisdiction.For example, she cites repatriation of Australians overseas – which appears to be a federal responsibility requiring consular assistance, but the states determine how many people can arrive through hotel quarantine in each jurisdiction.
She warned Australia may not be meeting its responsibility in article 10 on the rights of the child – because caps on hotel quarantine prevent speedy reunification of families.She warned Australia may not be meeting its responsibility in article 10 on the rights of the child – because caps on hotel quarantine prevent speedy reunification of families.
Croucher said Australia needs to embed a human rights approach into its emergency response to consider if measures are justified “at the time they are considered, not afterwards”.Croucher said Australia needs to embed a human rights approach into its emergency response to consider if measures are justified “at the time they are considered, not afterwards”.
In Victoria, Daniel Andrews has previously said health authorities are reviewing the data every day, watching to see if things change enough to ease restrictions.
What does that mean for Sunday’s announcements?
And Bill Shorten also has a statement on job cuts at Stuart Robert’s department – in the midst of a pandemic.
The Morrison government must come clean on sweeping job cuts to Centrelink / Services Australia workers across the nation.
The secret jobcutter plan has sacked -
420 Melbourne casual workers in Mill Park and Dandenong, many who worked at application processing centres helping clients for two years but won’t see a dollar in redundancy.
A reported further 180 workers based in Sydney.
Another 23 workers in Launceston who fear the axe will be swung on them next.
This could not be a worse action at a worse time.
How many Australian workers does government services minister Stuart Robert intend to sack during a pandemic recession?
Philippa Lynch, the chief registrar of the high court, has given evidence in Estimates about fallout from Dr Vivienne Thom’s bombshell review finding sexual harassment by former justice Dyson Heydon of court associates.
Lynch said:
In particular, the new HR policy states that the obligation of confidentiality with respect to the court’s judicial role does not preclude conversations about “workplace issues”, she said.
Lynch reveals that in addition to the six original complainants, eight former associates and one former staff member engaged with the review process.
Independent senator Rex Patrick asked about cooperation with police. Lynch said the AFP had asked for a copy of Dr Thom’s report but because the information is sensitive the court has contacted the six complainants offering them to provide their sections of the report to the AFP. If the AFP wants to press the point, the court will get back in touch with the associates.
Patrick characterised this as impeding the AFP, but Jonathon Duniam rejected that view.
Michelle Rowland has responded to the Cartier watch revelations very, very quickly.
Q: The community leaders in the Islamic community are saying that they are quite fearful that this attention of the case and this outbreak might spike another round of potentially blaming the Islamic community for the virus in Melbourne, what would you say to that?
Putting in this whole answer for the Andrew Bolts of the world, who I am sure are already madly scribbling sanctimonious bullshit from their offices which no doubt have many leather bound books and smell of rich mahogany.
Daniel Andrews:
Daniel Andrews says he won’t go into how the latest cluster in northern Melbourne arose, but does say:
And a reminder that we have seen this across ALL communities (remember the Aspen crew) so I don’t want to see anything linked to particular communities here.
Still at estimates, Labor’s Kimberley Kitching is pursuing questions over the Liberal party affiliations of some of Australia Post’s board members.
Nick Macdonald, the general counsel, is asked whether Tony Nutt is a current or former member of the Liberal party.
Macdonald says he doesn’t know.
Kitching asks whether he’s ever heard references to Nutt as being an “iron fist in a velvet glove” or a “Svengali”.
“I have never heard those things mentioned.”
If you need a refresher on Nutt, here you go.
So, back to Victoria – it was a little confusing, but it seems like there are 16 cases across six households.
About 520 people are now self-isolating.
400 of those are linked to the East Preston Islamic College community.
Another 120 are residents of Broadmeadows public housing towers, who have been ordered into isolation, while testing is carried out, after a resident tested positive.
Australia Post spent $12,000 to buy four Cartier watches as a reward for executives for their hard work on a project, a Senate estimates committee has been told.
Labor is using the communications committee hearing to scrutinise Australia Post over some of its spending decisions and use of corporate credit cards.
Under questioning, Christine Holgate, the Australia Post chief executive officer, said the watches were purchased in October 2018 and she described the events as follows:
Holgate said she was not one of the recipients but the purchases were organised through her office. During the hearing, Holgate and her chief financial officer were unable to shed light during today’s hearing as to which corporate credit card it was incurred on.
When asked by Labor’s Kimberley Kitching whether it was appropriate to use taxpayers’ money to buy Cartier watches for already highly remunerated Australia Post executives, Holgate insisted it was not taxpayers’ money:
Kitching said she was unhappy the chair had not fronted the estimates hearing.
Deputy chief health officer, professor Allen Cheng confirms that a case earlier in the week is a reinfection.
There have only been about seven or eight of those cases recorded in the world.