Bill Shorten said PM made Australia ‘look stupid’ with Israel embassy plan as Coalition attempted to allay Indonesia’s fears
• Australian labour market strong but RBA warns of ‘protracted’ downturn in housing market
• Minerals Council backs Coalition’s plan to underwrite new power generation
The electoral donation reforms will pass tonight but, other than that, there is not a lot going on.
We’re going to wrap up a little early today – the last time I’ll be able to say that with the blog, given that we have the last two weeks of parliament coming up, and they are bound to be doozies.
Brendan O’Connor has given Labor’s response to the unemployment figures:
We note the modest increase in the number of jobs created last month but it is clear that there is still more to be done.
The youth unemployment rate continues to be double the national average at 11.3%.
Someone come get the Senate.
Eric Abetz just said Labor is like skimpy swimwear?
“What they show is interesting, what they hide is vital.”
My Senate Question today on the PM’s comments to Islamic Leaders in Australia. pic.twitter.com/48DaqBfRFH
From Mike Bowers’s lens, to you.
Everything is completely normal and fine:
Today senator Kristina Keneally revealed her hidden acting talent pic.twitter.com/5D54S5sv57
The last solo Senate question time has ended.
Everyone take a moment to let that soak in.
And I also missed Sarah Hanson-Young asking Michaelia Cash:
As if the climate impacts of extracting the oil reserves in the Great Australian Bight weren’t bad enough, we’re not going to meet our Paris agreements if we do that, yesterday we saw the release of modelling from Equinor, the foreign company applying to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight.
Their own modelling shows scenarios where, in the event of a spill, it could spread as far as Albany in Western Australia through to Bondi Beach and up to Port Macquarie. Why is the government backing a foreign oil company rather than the millions ofAustralians who live, work and play on our beautiful beaches and rely on our coastline?
I completely reject the proposition of our question. In all the portfolios in this chamber, we back the millions of Australians you refer to, but, in relation to the specific issue you have raised, you would be aware the Bight is one of the most promising frontier oil and gas regions in the world.
Australia needs oil and gas, Senator Hanson-Young, from the Bight for, you might be interested to know, the Australian people you refer to would certainly be interested to know, energy security but also, Mr President, to protect the jobs in manufacturing.
Malarndiri McCarthy to Nigel Scullion:
I refer to reports today that the minister has granted $1.4m from the Indigenous Advancement Strategy and Aboriginal benefits account funding to a Katherine based non-Indigenous company, North Australian Rural Management consultants, which has close links to the Country Liberal party. How many Indigenous people have been employed and how many Indigenous businesses have been assisted by the $1.4m grant to North Australian Rural Management Consultants?
Thank you for your interest in this area, Senator. Can I say I stand by every dollar and every cent of the IAS funding I have approved and every IAS grant has been made in accordance with IAS guidelines.
The Indigenous organisations that deliver outcomes, I’m actively transitioning IAS funds to them, and the number is significantly increasing.
Turning back to the Senate and it seems Malarndirri McCarthy is asking Nigel Scullion about Indigenous funding and who is getting it.
Lorena Allam has been reporting on some of the concerns.
And on balancing the relationship between China and the US, given that the relationship between those two countries is not exactly the rosiest it has ever been at the moment, Scott Morrison says:
We will deal with it the way we always have successfully. Our relationships with each of these major partners are different, and they’re both successful.
Australia doesn’t have to choose and we won’t choose. We will continue to work constructively with both partners based on the core of what those relationships are.
Back to Scott Morrison, he has been asked about Bill Shorten’s comments regarding the embassy discussion – that Morrison has made himself and Australia look stupid.
Bill Shorten doesn’t want to consider this question at all. He then says there should be a process, and when the government engages in a process, he says we shouldn’t follow the process.
I will leave it to Bill Shorten to explain the contradiction of that position.
Dipping back into the Senate for a moment and Peter Georgiou, of One Nation, has asked a question of Bridget McKenzie about live exports.
Which is fair enough – it is a big issue for Western Australia.
So what are the chances we will actually move the embassy?
All I have said is that we will consider the matter, this could be consistent with the two-state solution. I said this is the context in which Australia is considering that issue, in the context of furthering a two-state solution.
I have reasserted, any meetings here and my discussions about the Australian respect for Security Council resolutions as well, the parameters of what we are considering is clear, we have a process.
Asked about David Crowe’s story , which reported Steve Ciobo said there was “less than a 5% chance” of the embassy move actually happening (which Ciobo did not deny having said today), Scott Morrison says he has no information it was ever actually said.
But regardless, it is not Australia’s official position.
I don’t make anything of them [the remarks] because they don’t reflect the views of the government, I am not aware of him even having said that.
I had no knowledge of that, the position I set out yesterday is what has been relayed to the government of Indonesia.
On China looking for a reset in its relationship with Australia:
We are getting on with business with China, not just the business of the commercial relationship, but a broad-based relationship, we have a comprehensive strategic partnership with China, it’s good to engage, like we did last night, cover a wide range of issues within the security of that discussion, that partnership, it was a very positive meeting, as I know you have seen the reports of and will continue to get on with business in that manner.”
Scott Morrison starts off with the positives:
Our trade arrangements, our successes are delivering more jobs, for Australia, which means unemployment is at 5%, we are keeping it there, the Australian economy is doing well.
We’ll be leaving question time in a moment because Scott Morrison is about to hold his daily press conference from Asean.
The education minister, Dan Tehan, has announced a review into how disability funding is being used in the education system. From his statement:
An independent panel will examine how commonwealth funding is used to support students with disability and report back by December 2019.
The National School Resourcing Board will examine the supplementary, substantial and extensive levels of adjustment under the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability (NCCD), which sets out how disability loading is calculated.
Murray Watt still doesn’t know what the big stick is but says Mathias Cormann told Sky that “as a general rule, I support government policy”.
Watt asks what are the exceptions to that rule are, and whether the power policy is one of them.
It’s Murray Watt’s turn to ask Mathias Cormann to explain his government’s policies.
“What is the big stick and when exactly will it be used?” Watt asks about the government’s energy policy.
First question from Wong to Cormann is on David Crowe’s story about Steve Ciobo advising his Indonesian counterpart there would be a “less than 5% chance” of the embassy move happening.
Mathias Cormann repeats that you shouldn’t believe everything you read in the paper. Except Ciobo himself didn’t exactly deny it on Sky News earlier today.
Penny Wong starts by acknowledging it is summit season, and she understands that there will be absences from time to time.
But with Simon Birmingham, Marise Payne and Matthew Canavan absent today, Wong says it would also be nice if the government ministers prioritised turning up to parliament.
The replies to this are, well, as you would expect after you forced an already marginalised community to campaign for the same right as heterosexual couples.
A year has passed and nearly five thousand same sex couples have been married. A Yes vote of more than 60% and nearly 80% of Australians voted – in a voluntary postal ballot. It said a lot about our commitment to democracy, equality and a fair go. Congratulations Australia! https://t.co/usFKKA75xz
We are on the downhill slope to Senate question time.
For a moment, I thought it was 4pm, but that was just a fanciful whigmaleerie, as my Scottish friend would say.
Amnesty International is calling on Australia to stop supporting the Myanmar military. From it’s release:
Bangladesh and Myanmar authorities must immediately halt plans to send Rohingya refugees back to Rakhine State, and Australia must cease its training and support to the Myanmar military who are continuing to commit crimes against humanity today, Amnesty International has said.
A first wave of organised returns could begin as soon as today (15 November), following the announcement of a bilateral agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar last month which falls short of international obligations.
Australia is expanding its Pacific labour scheme. From Scott Morrison’s office:
Australia continues to take our partnership with the Pacific to a new level. Building Pacific labour mobility is a priority for Australia and for our partners in the Pacific.
Mike Bowers has had some fun with the light in the Senate again
The Greens’ education spokeswoman, Mehreen Faruqi, has introduced a Senate bill to remove the education minister’s power to veto Australian Research Council grants.
The move follows furore over former education minister Simon Birmingham’s decision to block 11 grants worth $4m in the humanities.
Simply publishing the reasons for veto isn’t enough. We need to take concrete action to protect academic independence and that means taking politics out and leaving it to the experts.
As a former academic, I know that the independence of researchers is of the utmost importance and we now know that this has been massively undermined by political intervention by the Liberal government.
“I think that Mr Morrison made a major mistake when he floated the kite before the Wentworth byelection to say we would move Australia’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which broke 70 years of bipartisanship and didn’t do anything to accomplish peace in the Middle East,” Bill Shorten said of Scott Morrison’s idea to have a “discussion” about moving our Israeli embassy ahead of last month’s Wentworth byelection.
“Mr Morrison made a mistake. Frankly he made himself look stupid and made our country look stupid. If he has decided not to move the embassy, for goodness sakes, just tell us so we can all get on with everything else.
Four votes later and
The government’s hours motion passes with Labor support, so we’ll definitely have a Senate vote on the Electoral Funding and Disclosure bill (foreign donation ban) at or before 6:15pm. #auspol
On the embassy issue, Bill Shorten said Scott Morrison “made himself look stupid and made our country look stupid”.
“Let’s just get on with it, no shame in admitting you are wrong, let’s just get on with the next issue.”
It is almost the 10 year anniversary of the Victorian Black Friday bushfires.
Bill Shorten is in Kinglake, saying we “need to make sure that there is help available” for people who might need a “helping hand” dealing with the event.
I meant to post this earlier.
Re the Fairfax report that he privately suggested “less than 5% chance” of shifting Embassy to Jerusalem, Steve Ciobo says: “As the PM has made clear, no decision has been taken, it is being reviewed, and a decision will be announced in the future.”
Update on where the electoral funding legislation debate is at:
There is a suspension to bring on the hours motion (extending the time the Senate sits) to make sure the bill passes tonight.
You may remember Alan Staines from a little bit ago – he left Parliament House with a plan to walk to Sydney to raise awareness about Australia’s suicide rate.
He’s almost there.
An 86-year-old man is walking the 320km journey from Canberra to Sydney to raise awareness and support Australians affected by suicide. https://t.co/k2Y8Kro5rY
The labour force figures are out – no change.
The unemployment rates remains steady at 5%.
The government’s foreign donation ban bill will pass the Senate after the shadow minister of state, Don Farrell, confirmed on Thursday morning that Labor would support the bill.
Farrell takes the debate back to Labor’s attempts two years ago to ban foreign donations, and its decision six months ago to refuse to accept them.
I hope to see the swift passage of this legislation today. And I call on the prime minister to tell Liberal party to stop taking foreign donations … The opposition will be supporting this legislation with the lengthy and various amendments we have requested subsequently listed by the government.
One year ago today:
Our man in Washington is keeping busy:
A nice catch up and a laugh with the Presidents before their sit down discussion in NY. Both are terrific human beings ( and good golfers). #billclinton #georgewbush #newyork @… https://t.co/OYm433lpmF
Bilateral discussions between Australia and New Zealand have been unable to progress talks owing to a swath of thorny issues.
New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, headed to Singapore this week with promises to raise the deportation of New Zealand citizens with her Australian counterpart, and to discuss the Nauru refugee impasse.
A very big thank you to the Senate secret squirrels who have pointed out just who will be missing from Senate QT today (spoiler: practically everyone who ever answers questions and is not Mathias Cormann).
Marise Payne is overseas. Mathias Cormann will answer for her.
Greg Hunt is pleased to be able to cross My Health off his list. From his statement:
The Morrison Government has successfully passed important privacy measures relating to My Health Record, through the Senate, strengthening Labor’s original legislation and further protecting the health information of Australians.
They include tougher penalties for those that misuse the system, strengthening provisions to safeguard against domestic violence, prohibiting employers from requesting and using health information from an individual’s My Health Record and that no health information or de-identified data be released to insurers.
The Senate has also passed amendments that law enforcement agencies can only access a person’s My Health Record with a warrant or court order and anyone who chooses to cancel a record at any time will have that record permanently deleted.
These additional measures will ensure Australians have their health information protected under law in an already secure system.
Yesterday the Government also worked with the Senate crossbench to extend the opt-out period for My Health Record.
The opt-out period will be extended until January 31, 2019, however, it’s important to note that people can opt-out or opt-in at any time in their lives.
My Health Record has officially passed the Senate.
It still has to go back to the House, because of the amendments – most notably, the extension of the opt-out period to 31 January – but it is done and dusted.
It’s also been a year since the marriage equality plebiscite returned with a decisive ‘yes’ from the Australian public.
There will be a small gathering of the bipartisan ‘yes’ supporters in parliament to acknowledge the anniversary later this afternoon
Outside the Senate this morning, Penny Wong had a little more to say about the embassy “discussion”.
I saw the reports that the former trade minister Mr Ciobo has tried to reassure his former Indonesian counterpart that there is only a 5% chance. What chaos. What does this say about our credibility and consistency in the region? And that’s why Scott Morrison really needs to end this now, make his position clear, walk away from a decision that he is going to walk away from anyway.
Then there is this:
Jordon Steele-John has thanked young people for advocating for a longer My Health Record opt-out time.
The Senate forced the government to extend the opt-out time until 31 January yesterday. Steele-John said in a statement:
This is a huge win for young people and one that I am proud to have championed on their behalf.
Had this amendment not passed, the parents of a young person visiting their doctor to help facilitate reporting of domestic abuse or family violence would have been able to see the record, instantly placing that young person at even further serious risk of harm.
This period in a young person’s life is one filled with change that facilitates the right to medical privacy, including from their own parents.
Why allow 14- to 17-year-olds the right to make decisions about their body if we’re not also going to afford them the privacy to make those decisions without fear of judgment, repercussions or interference?
We came so close to this disastrous outcome because the government is not willing to listen to young people.
Meanwhile, Penny Wong, who has made her thoughts on the embassy move “discussion” very clear from the beginning (basically that it’s bupkis to risk a key allied relationship over a byelection) repeated her thoughts on ABC radio this morning:
The decision – the rashly announced, ill-considered, rushed decision that he announced – was going to have implications for our standing in the region.
Apart from anything, Fran, it goes to consistency, and it goes to credibility.
And, unfortunately, Scott Morrison has undermined both of those. And I think the only way out of it is, rather than holding on to this judgment until Christmas, which is what he told reporters he would do yesterday, under pressure, when asked, “When will you make a decision on the embassy in Israel?”
He was pressed and he said, “Christmas?”
Well, why wait till Christmas?
Everything is going so well Melissa Price has responded to the Concetta Fierravanti-Wells op ed in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday, on ABC radio.
Fierravanti-Wells was talking about the importance of Australia’s relationship with the Pacific, which is why she found it disappointing that a “L-plate minister” had damaged that relationship.
I will ask her about why she would say these comments in the Sydney Morning Herald? I cannot believe she hasn’t been hearing what I’ve been saying, that she would actually believe I would be disrespectful.
I’m deeply wounded by this. I’m not an L-plate minister. I was the assistant minister back in December. Many parts of the portfolio I have responsibility for now I had back in December. That is her opinion and I’m getting on with the job.
Well, the embassy “discussion” is the gift that just keeps on keeping on, with Scott Morrison doing his best to attempt to hose down Indonesia’s concerns Australia could move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem.
We’ll know the outcome of those “discussions” by the end of the year, he said yesterday.