Competition watchdog chief briefs National party room on energy – politics live
Version 7 of 17.
I’d up those Great Barrier Reef Foundation questions predictions:
24 hours. Money into the Department, money out to the private foundation. All $444m. @CUhlmann reports with new #reefgate revelations: https://t.co/OTIcS7BOc6
It has been quite the day already and we are yet to even get to question time.
How many of Labor’s questions will be on the Great Barrier Reef foundation grant? Half or three-quarters? And how many of the answers will be variations of “we care about the reef”, “best people for the job”, “because we said so?” without actually answering the questions?
I know the government is getting testy over this – but this is a tree they have planted entirely on their own.
Further to the questions swirling around the Great Barrier Reef Foundation grant, our environment reporter Lisa Cox has written about the contradiction between what Josh Frydenberg said and what the foundation’s head, Anna Marsden, has said:
The managing director of a foundation given $443.8m for the Great Barrier Reef says she was not aware the government was conducting due diligence on the charity before it awarded them the grant.
Anna Marsden told ABC radio on Monday the government had not contacted anyone at the foundation when it was determining whether the not-for-profit could administer the grant.
“I wasn’t [contacted],” she said. “I wasn’t aware that the diligence process was under way, no.”
The comments bring into question remarks by the environment and energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, on the ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday, that the government did “extensive due diligence” on the foundation before awarding it close to half a billion dollars of taxpayer money.”
You can read the whole report, here
Mike Bowers went into the chamber to capture this to show everyone he is no longer twinning with Craig Kelly.
It’s too late. We all know the truth. Inspiration can come from anywhere when it comes to fashion, and while Bowers may have chosen a strange one, it is not for me to judge.
Curiouser and curiouserThe story about the Turnbull government’s grant to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation just keeps on giving. A representative of the foundation said as recently as this morning that no one in the organisation was contacted as part of any exercise in due diligence done by the government prior to 9 April.
But the government has offered new information as part of a complaint a government spokesman made about some comments about the story made on the Insiders program by Guardian Australia’s editor, Lenore Taylor, on Sunday. I gather Insiders was asked to remove a clip of Taylor’s comments.
Clarification: a government spokesperson told @insidersABC after yesterday's program that the Environment Department sought information from GBRF in March about its operations and structure, prior to the meeting with the Prime Minister and Environment Minister in April. 1/2
As a result of this new information, we deleted a tweet from yesterday's program. 2/2
The rationale for the request to remove the clip was this: the environment department sought information from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority in March about its operations and structure – prior to a meeting with the prime minister and the environment minister in April.To my knowledge, this is the first time anyone from the government has offered up this information.
Another government spokesman has said today that the department did some “preliminary” or “desktop” or “high level” due diligence on the foundation’s record before the April meeting.
We’ll pursue questions about this today. I suspect we won’t be the only ones.
Richard Di Natale has given a press conference. His first piece of business – the $444m grant to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation:
No transparency, and thinks that’s OK. This is a disgrace, an absolute scandal. I heard Senator Cormann saying no one appeared to be interested in this in the Senate. I’ve let him know the Greens were pursuing this at Senate estimates months ago. We were pursuing this with my colleague because we knew it was a scandal then, and it’s a scandal now. The fact that you could have $500m of taxpayer money being handed to an organisation that calls it ‘winning the lottery’ when they win that money without public oversight says everything about Malcolm Turnbull’s government. Whenever he is in trouble, he reverts to type. He hands money over to his big business mates. He tries to buy his way out of trouble.
“This is for the who’s W=who of the big end of town. It’s a disgrace and every cent should be handed back. If we had an anticorruption watchdog, this is precisely what they would be examining right now. If we had a national anticorruption watchdog, Malcolm Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg would be grilled over their involvement in what is a scandalous waste of taxpayer money.”
Rod Sims is out from this address of the Nationals party room – and says that his main point is that energy in this country has to be addressed as a total package. Tl;dr: you can’t just focus on one sector – it has to be a whole package. *cough not just coal cough*
He also mentioned that the ACCC was only concerned with bringing power prices down.
Senator David Leyonhjelm is conducting a briefing for MPs and senators about the bill to restore the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory’s rights to legislate for euthanasia.
Leyonhjelm and the Greens are confident the bill has as many as 42 votes in the Senate – but with no commitment to bring it to a vote in the lower house the Liberal Democrat is keen to increase pressure on the government.
Rod Sims from the ACCC briefed the Nationals party room on the Neg.
And you thought your Monday was bad.
He’s due to emerge from the bear pit soon, so we’ll let you know what he had to say.
Woulds, not coulds, but nothing about shoulds.
Back in the Senate, Penny Wong has given notice of a motion looking at the Cambodian elections.
The motion, to be debated tomorrow, “expresses its serious concerns with Cambodia’s 2018 national election and welcomes assurances that the government has made Australia’s concerns known to the Cambodian government” as well as:
(2) Notes the election process, which has included the dissolution of the Cambodia National Rescue party (CNRP), the detention of CNRP leader Kem Sokha, and the banning of CNRP parliamentarians and officials from engaging in politics for five years, has reversed more than 25 years of progress towards democracy in Cambodia;
(3) Recognises freedom of expression and association underpin democraticsocieties and affirms concerns the election took place in an environmentwhere not all political parties, civil society organisations and media couldoperate freely;
(4) Expresses its disappointment that Cambodian people have been unable to freely choose their representatives and recognises that the development of strong democratic practices and institutions — including a free press and civil society — is crucial to Cambodia’s long-term prosperity;
(5) Reiterates that as a longstanding friend of Cambodia, Australia must continue to urge the Cambodian government to take steps to allow free and open political debate without violence and intimidation;
(6) Acknowledges the Australian Cambodian community for its tireless advocacy in support of human rights and democracy in Cambodia;
(7) Calls on the Cambodian government to immediately release opposition leader Kem Sokha;
(8) Notes allegations of involvement in illicit activities, including money laundering, by members of the Cambodian People’s party in Australia, and urges full investigation of these claims; and
(9) Calls on the Australian government to consider, in coordination with other partners, additional measures to support democracy in Cambodia.
Labor’s position on the Neg has not changed:
.@Mark_Butler_MP on the NEG: Labor does not support taxpayer funds going to an investment that the industry itself has said is ‘uninvestable’. MORE: https://t.co/q2MPtM7LaW #SkyLiveNow pic.twitter.com/5uQWYK3IkO
Just a bit more on coulds versus woulds from Barnaby Joyce:
What I’ll be looking for is, what is the alternative? It’s got to be real. It can’t be a statement of could. Could doesn’t carry weight. Would does. What is the would that they are going the make sure that if this comes unstuck, that both for the person most importantly who is doing it tough in the regional towns who can’t afford their bills now, what do we say to them that we, if the power prices don’t go down, we have to capacity to drive them down. We have to be able to answer that question and from a political position, you better be able to answer it before a federal election.”
Democratic crisis averted – Claire Moore is on her feet in the Federation Chamber, so it looks like someone finally made it to the speaker’s chair.