Politicians react to the final report on the South Australian blackouts and the China extradition treaty debacle. As it happened
That’s it for today. Tomorrow we have ACTU secretary Sally McManus speaking at the National Press Club. Thanks to the brains trust; Paul Karp, Gareth Hutchens, Katharine Murphy and Mike Bowers.
The government is introducing more changes to parliamentarians’ expenses.
The special minister of state, Scott Ryan, says the changes will:
Tanya Plibersek to Malcolm Turnbull: I refer to the prime minister’s scrapping the deficit levy in this year’s budget, and his support for the decision to cut penalty rates. Why is that under this prime minister, millionaires get a tax cut of more than $16,000, big business gets a tax cut of about $50bn, and workers get a pay cut?
Turnbull reminds the parliament that Labor opposed the “deceit tax”.
Honourable members opposite will know very well the deficit levy was imposed for a term of three years. It expires at the end of this financial year of its own force. This was a surcharge that they condemned as an act of deceit, and denounced from one end of this place to the other … the reality is this, that … Australia is a highly taxed country.
The treasurer, Scott Morrison, gets a Dixer on company tax rates.
Then Brendan O’Connor to Turnbull: Can the prime minister guarantee that no other Sunday penalty rates in awards will be cut by the Fair Work Commission?
Will the prime minister support any future decision of the commission that will cut penalty rates?
I wish Anthony Albanese was dressed like this in question time.
Barnaby Joyce gets a Dixer on the beef deal with China.
Shorten to Turnbull: Does the prime minister rule out pay cuts for AFP officers, including his own protection detail, for working late nights and weekends?
Labor to Turnbull: Is the prime minister seriously refusing to rule out pay cuts for AFP officers including his own protection detail, for working late nights and weekends?
Turnbull does not answer the specific question on AFP allowances, which as I understand it, is separate to the penalty rates decision.
Given the distinguishing characteristics of the hospitality and retail sectors, they provide no warrant for the variation of penalty rates in other awards. They want to suggest that decision applies to nurses, to emergency workers, to police, completely untrue, no basis in fact. But why would they care?
Malcolm Turnbull gets a question on the Snowy Hydro mark two, allowing him to speak about his meeting with Snowy Hydro workers.
Labor’s Clare O’Neill asks Turnbull: Today the opposition leader and I are meeting with members of the Australian Federal Police Association. Is the prime minister aware AFP officers, including his own protection detail, are concerned they will lose $35,000 every year because of planned cuts to allowances for working late nights and weekends? Why does the prime minister want to add police officers to the list of Australians who will have their pay cut at the same time as millionaires will get a tax cut?
Turnbull says the Coalition have provided unprecedented support for the AFP. He flicks the question to the justice minister, Michael Keenan, who bluffs and blusters but does not answer the question.
Shorten to Turnbull: I met with private sector aged-care nurses including Deli (sp). She’s in the gallery today. Her husband Ken works in retail and faces a pay cut. Deli’s worried once they start cutting some penalty rates in some awards, her pay could be cut as well. Why isn’t the prime minister doing anything to support the rates for all Australians?
Turnbull says Shorten knows that nurses are employed under state awards and are not covered by the decision by the Fair Work Commission.
The decision of the Fair Work Commission applies to workers in the retail, hospitality, fast food areas. It does not apply to nurses. The honourable member knows very well it doesn’t apply to nurses …
What he and his colleagues have been endeavouring to do, is as usual, misleading and frighten Australians with their untruths.
The Indi MP, Cathy McGowan, asks fellow independent Andrew Wilkie under standing order 99:
I refer to the private member’s bill … relating to the mandatory banking code of conduct. It’s a great example why we we have independent representation in parliament, and demonstrates how we as independents are representing our communities in this place. Can the minister tell the house when he thinks the debate on the bill will be resumed and what process is needed for the house to fully consider this bill so that this important matter can be fully debated and our communities informed?
As much as I hate to be the Grinch that stole Christmas …
Get the car back on the road …
Labor to Turnbull: The prime minister supports cutting the penalty rates of nearly 700,000 Australians by up to $77 every week. And under this, prime minister, a nurse in New South Wales could lose eight weeks of paid parental leave, a cut of around $5,300. When will the prime minister stop fighting other Liberals and start fighting for Australians?
Turnbull flicks the question to the social services minister, Christian Porter.
What you do not support is near to 60% of all families who receive paid parental leave having a very substantial average gain of $1,300 during the period of paid parental leave. That’s what you’re opposing and that group of 58%, that is 96,310 recipients, that group are the lowest income earners inside the paid parental leave.
Swanny is trolling the PM.
A government question to the defence industry minister, Christopher Pyne, is on defence force preparations to support emergency crews. Pyne:
Our thoughts and our prayers are with the people of north Queensland, going through another destructive cyclone, mother nature wreaking her revenge on us poor humans here on earth.
Shorten to Turnbull: With know the prime minister is prepared to give into his Liberal opponents on every other issue, so why won’t the prime minister now give in to Labor and support our private member’s bill to protect penalty rates? When will the government stop fighting itself and start fighting for the conditions of the Australian workers?
Turnbull says the government is creating more growth and jobs. As opposed to jobs and growth.
Less investment, less business, fewer jobs. It’s the path to poverty. That is what Labor leads. They used to be committed to prosperity but no only longer. They have abandoned Australian workers, they have abandoned the commitment to growth, they have abandoned the future.
Malcolm Turnbull addresses Cyclone Debbie after a question from one of the local members, George Christensen. He says it has made landfall and is a category-four storm. He again gives emergency advice. Take care and heed advice. Look out for each other.
Shorten adds his sympathies and thanks emergency workers.
Just a quick update on today’s joint Coalition party room – readers already know the prime minister grounded the contentious China extradition treaty before the issue would have been hotly debated during the regular meeting of government MPs.
But one backbencher, Eric Abetz, did press on and raise his opposition to the deal during today’s discussion. He’d made it known to some colleagues he was prepared to cross the floor to disallow the treaty if it had come to a vote.
Shorten to Turnbull: We know that prime minister changes his policies when he feels pressure from the Liberal party room. So why doesn’t he feel any pressure to act when nearly 700,000 workers are facing penalty rate cuts on Sundays?
Turnbull says it was the Fair Work Commission’s decision.
Five minutes to question time. Which is like five minutes to midnight.
Penny Wong channels The Lord of the Rings in her speech.
Nick Xenophon and his senators are opposing the amendments to 18C but voted to bring on the debate with the government.
If he maintains his opposition to the 18C bill, it will fail.
While the Senate debate continues, the prime minister has met Snowy Hydro workers for a spot of lunch.
The Greens senator Nick McKim makes the point that if the 18C amendments were really about freedom of speech, the government would address laws that allow whistleblowers to be jailed for two years for speaking detention centres and defamation laws which have a chilling effect.
He also attacks the Senate committee for not allowing Indigenous people to speak to the snap inquiry on the bill, which had a half-day hearing on Friday.
Racism started the day Europeans arrived in this country and it is still going today. For the Senate not to hear from Indigenous people was an absolute bloody disgrace.
I hope this parliament will vote this amendment down and can I say it is a poor reflection on this prime minister.
I hope the parliament thinks about what this says to the young Muslim woman on the bus or the young Asian boy in the street or some other member of Australia’s multicultural community who is abused because of who they are. Because not only is the amendment before this place wrong, in many ways what is most wrong and has been most damaging has been the signal that has been sent by a prime minister who believes he is a Liberal moderate.
The signal he is sending in cahoots with this attorney general that this sort of racial abuse is more permissible.
Penny Wong says the 18C changes are more a work program for a government which has no agenda.
She turns her attack on the attorney general, George Brandis, whom she describes as a “serial misleader”.
His is a lonely and thankless job leading a dysfunctional government in the Senate.
Penny Wong says the removal of “insult”, “offend” and “humiliate” from the Racial Discrimination Act says everything about this government. She says inserting “harrass” is not strengthening the act.
Harassment is about generating fear, not protecting freedom.
That means the 18C debate goes forth from now.
Labor’s Senate leader, Penny Wong, speaks first.
In the chamber, Paul Karp tells me One Nation and Nick Xenophon Team are with the government which means Labor’s motion will fail.
The Senate is now dividing on Labor’s 18C suspension of standing orders.
Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, Penny Wong, has said the shadow cabinet and caucus had decided not to proceed with ratification of the China extradition treaty “at this time”.
We appreciate that the Chinese government is very clear about wanting the treaty ratified at this stage, however we believe the dissenting report of the Labor members on the joint standing committee on treaties … expresses a very sensible position.
The transfer of prisoner arrangement has been working well – we expect that to continue.
Labor caucus met this morning. It discussed 18C, two separate banking inquiry bills and the government’s extradition treaty with China.
On 18C, the Indigenous MP Patrick Dodson said the government’s handling of the process had been a “shambles”.
The Greens leader, Richard Di Natale, supports the Labor motion to suspend standing orders.
He said he thought the changes to 18C had been dumped, after all if Tony Abbott dumped them (in 2014), no one could bring them back.
It’s not often I agree with Barnaby Joyce but he belled the cat. It is not a conversation around kitchen tables.
The attorney general, George Brandis, says yet again, Labor is delaying the bill. He gives a short history of the 18C amendments, from the Coalition promise to change the act at the 2013 elections.
He says 18C has been:
The Senate can deal with the matter as it always intended to do … and should not be used by Senator Wong to play politics on this issue.
Labor’s leader in the Senate, Penny Wong, is now suspending standing orders in the chamber over the Racial Discrimination Act. She says the whole thing has been rushed through the house, given that the:
It really does say everything about this government, about its real views on freedom of speech.
They want to just rush it through … the optics of this bill is entirely internal.
Debate and report into 18C amendments is coming up in the Senate. This is the speakers list.
The foreign minister, Julie Bishop, has said she would continue to work with Labor to get the China extradition treaty ratified because it is “undoubtedly in Australia’s national interests”.
Asked whether there was a link between the extradition treaty and prisoner transfer agreement, Bishop said “yes, they were signed at the same time, in 2007” and confirmed that the Chinese consider them linked. It was raised on the visit by China’s premier, Li Keqiang, she said.
Asked about Crown employees in custody in China, Bishop did not explain if they were directly affected but said Australia would continue to make representations on their behalf.
Abbott BFF Eric Abetz does not support the China extradition treaty and hopes this is the end of the issue.
While China is a close neighbour and friend of Australia, I believe it would be unwise to support an extradition treaty with China and I am pleased that the prime minister has taken on board the serious concerns raised by a number of Coalition members.
Given China’s poor track record on human rights and natural justice, I was grappling with how I could support such a regulation.
AAP reports that the NSW farmer who shot dead an environmental officer over a land clearing dispute has died in jail from a terminal illness.
The convicted murderer Ian Turnbull, 82, died at the Prince of Wales hospital on Monday after being moved there from Long Bay jail on 20 March, a NSW Corrective Services spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
The farmer was jailed last year for at least 24 years for murdering Glen Turner, 51, and detaining his colleague, Robert Strange, for advantage on 29 July 2014 as the two officers carried out compliance work near the farmer’s property at Croppa Creek in the state’s north.
He shot Turner twice and ignored Strange’s pleas to stop, firing the third and fatal shot as his victim made a desperate dash for safety.
At Turnbull’s sentencing last June, Justice Peter Johnson said Turnbull had built up a strong resentment – even hatred – for Turner and his employer, the Office of Environment and Heritage, over battles about illegal land clearing.
More recently Turnbull suffered a stroke in jail and was being sued by his second-eldest son over claims the farmer reneged on a longstanding promise to hand over farm land.
It is understood the NSW supreme court case will not be affected by Turnbull’s death and the civil suit will proceed.
You have this crazy situation where you don’t own the vegetation on your land, the state government does, and many people have had enough.
Craig Laundy tells Sky the Chinese extradition treaty has nothing to do with the arrests of three Crown casino staff, now held in China.
(There has been some speculation the the deal needs to be signed for those staff.)
The Liberal MP for Reid, Craig Laundy, is speaking in favour of the China extradition treaty.
It’s our legal system that is reviewing the case before extradition … You have a chance to defend yourself here before you are actually extradited.
The Greens party-room meeting has discussed the effects test, native title changes and company tax cuts.
The Greens are concerned that although the Liberals support adding an effects test to competition law in theory, in practice they may be loading bills with unpalatable changes to sink them because the Nationals forced them to adopt the new test.
Speaking at a doorstop, the foreign minister, Julie Bishop, says every subsequent government since the treaty was signed in 2007 has had as policy to ratify to China treaty. (I’m looking at you, Tony Abbott.)
Even though she was supporting the treaty this morning (as Malcolm Turnbull was calling Bill Shorten to pull the resolution), Bishop says she has been in lockstep with Turnbull.
It’s been in our national interests to have this arrangement with China.
The joint standing committee on treaties (Jscot), chaired by the former Liberal minister Stuart Robert, recommended the China extradition treaty be accepted with conditions.
In his committee statement, Robert said:
Though it supports the agreement, the committee shares concerns expressed by the community about human rights afforded to people charged with crimes in China, the lack of transparency in the Chinese legal system, allegations of the ill treatment and torture of prisoners, and the continuing imposition of the death penalty.
As the Law Council of Australia explained in their submission, Australia is responsible under international law for human rights violations suffered by an extradited person in the destination country. Moreover, as this committee noted in a previous report: “Australia has a moral obligation to protect the human rights of extradited persons beyond simply accepting the undertakings of countries making extradition requests.”
That binding treaty action for the treaty on extradition between Australia and the People’s Republic of China be delayed until after an independent review of the Extradition Act 1988 to ensure that Australia’s extradition system continues to be consistent with community expectations and international legal obligations regarding the rule of law and human rights.
The Labor senator Lisa Singh says there are good reasons for Labor’s opposition to the China extradition treaty.
Bill Shorten’s remarks to caucus on the China extradition treaty:
Shadow cabinet met last night, it was our recommendation to caucus later this morning that we not ratify the treaty.
I spoke with Malcolm Turnbull this morning and advised him of this.
In case you missed it last night, One Nation has been engaging in a little rhythmic gymnastics over various policy positions in the past 24 hours.
Pauline Hanson began on Monday morning saying she would boycott any votes unless there was a sugar resolution, which was already in the wings.
After listening to people coming through my office, and on the streets, and back home over the weekend, and in the lead-up to this, generally, the majority of the public do not want a cut to penalty rates on weekends,” she said.
You’ve got my support. I’ve listened, and this is what you want, and I will not support any cuts to the penalty rates.
Labor’s Penny Wong and Mark Dreyfus will speak on China at 11.30am.
Just back to the China extradition treaty, it has been regularly reported over the years in the state-owned China Daily of the need for an official extradition treaty with Australia. This is an example, from September last year:
In recent years, the United States, Canada, Australia and Singapore have become popular destinations for corrupt fugitive Chinese officials. They lack bilateral extradition treaties and have legal differences with China, complicating their return, according to the Ministry of Public Security.
Many such fugitives have transferred billions of illegally acquired yuan to foreign accounts via money laundering and underground banks, the ministry said.
The Aemo report is obviously a lot more complex than wind power – guilty or innocent? But as that’s the frame through which the South Australian blackouts have been debated, here is some more detail from the report:
Wind turbines successfully rode through grid disturbances. It was the action of a control setting responding to multiple disturbances that led to the [blackout]. Changes made to turbine control settings shortly after the event has removed the risk of recurrence given the same number of disturbances.”
The Australian Energy Market Operator has released its report into the South Australian blackouts on 28 September 2016 in which 850,000 SA customers lost electricity supply.
The report sets out the cause of the blackout in these critical stages:
As a result, all supply to the SA region was lost at 4.18 pm … Aemo’s analysis shows that following system separation, frequency collapse and the consequent [blackout] was inevitable.
These projects can deliver engineering solutions to make the grid more resilient and protect customer supply as the transformation of Australia’s energy system continues.
While the MPs settle into their party-room meetings, a little housekeeping.
First up in the Senate, the government has listed the amendment to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
The energy and environment minister, Josh Frydenberg, has released this statement.
Electricity supply in New South Wales is set to be boosted with the construction of a new $100m 42MW solar farm in Manildra.
Supported by up to $9.8m in Turnbull government funding through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena), the project will begin construction in the first half of 2017.
Bill Shorten is beginning his caucus meeting.
He starts with a riff contrasting penalty rates with corporate tax cuts for the big banks (among others).
It shows you how out of touch this arrogant and incompetent government is.
To recap, the defeat for the China extradition treaty is obvious because Cory Bernardi’s disallowance motion (due tomorrow) has the support of the following.
Midway through a conversation with Cory Bernardi, the journalist Kieran Gilbert receives a message that Malcolm Turnbull has called Bill Shorten to tell him the treaty resolution has been pulled.
I have also confirmed that this has occurred.
The extradition treaty with China is the focal point of corridor conversation in Canberra this morning.
There are a number of government MPs very exercised. Government MPs report that three Liberal senators, Eric Abetz, Dean Smith and David Fawcett, would contemplate crossing the floor in the event this issue came to a vote.
In an unusual Senate committee hearing on a sitting night last evening, the Bell litigation matter starring George Brandis was further poked.
This is what we discovered, via Paul Karp.
Barnaby Joyce has been speaking to Sabra Lane about the sugar shambles in Queensland.
This has been a longtime issue and has been building to a head because of the sugar harvest. Paul Karp reported yesterday:
Sugar growers in north Queensland are concerned that they will lose control over who sells their sugar as Wilmar, which operates monopoly sugar mills in some districts, has failed to come to an agreement over supply with the not-for-profit industry pool Queensland Sugar Ltd.
It’s like they come out and predict the sun is going to rise and then claim credit for it.
The Guardian’s Essential poll is out. Katharine Murphy reports the usual Labor lead on a 2PP basis over the Coalition of 54% to 46%.
With the last parliamentary week dominated by the government’s proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act, voters were asked whether they approved of the Turnbull government’s plan to overhaul 18C.
The government’s proposed change to the legislation, expected to be debated in the Senate on Tuesday, would remove the terms “insult”, “offend” and “humiliate” and insert the higher definition of “harass” into section 18C.
Good morning blogans,
Unity of purpose is a rare thing in parliament but it seems an extradition treaty with China has brought about agreement with all but senior government leadership.
We are urging the opposition and crossbenchers to support the ratification. There are very considerable protections in the treaty and it is an important part of our co-operation with China on law enforcement.
We don’t know what happens to people once they are extradited to China … there is no upside for Australia.
The difficulty is that governments will always say things to serve only their interests.
I’d be very, very cautious about ratifying this treaty at this time. In my judgment, China’s legal system has to evolve further before the Australian government and people could be confident that those before it would receive justice according to law.
I want the best possible friendship with China but not at the expense of our values and long-term national interest.
We’ve got very significant concerns about extraditing Australians, in particular to China. The Chinese government’s legal system quite frankly cannot be trusted, the conviction rate is astronomical which calls into significant question someone’s right to receive a fair trial in China and we will not be supporting the extradition of Australians to China. So we’ll be voting to block that extradition.
Link : Labor attacks Malcolm Turnbull over penalty rates – as it happened