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Australia politics live: Territory rights bill introduced to parliament; Karen Andrews calls on home affairs whistleblowers


Josh Butler

Josh Butler

Bill to permit legislating assisted dying laws for territories expected to pass

Northern Territory Labor MP Luke Gosling admits some Indigenous communities have “big reservations” about the expansion of access to euthanasia, but has implored his colleagues to support his bill on territory rights.

Gosling and his Canberra colleague Alicia Payne have co-sponsored a private member’s bill this morning in parliament, which would restore the right for the NT and Australian Capital Territory to make their own laws on voluntary assisted dying – which the territories are currently prevented from doing.

Labor will grant members a conscience vote.

Supporters believe the bill will pass through the House and Senate, but several Labor MPs are expected to vote against the territory rights push due to their opposition to euthanasia. Conservative lobby groups, as well as the Labor senator Pat Dodson, claim the expansion of assisted dying may discourage some people in Indigenous communities from accessing healthcare.

Luke Gosling
The member for Solomon Luke Gosling introduces the restoring territory rights bill into the House of Representatives this morning. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

In a press conference following the introduction of the bill, Gosling – the member for the NT seat of Solomon – said the debate must be had with “sensitivity and awareness of these issues and how they affect First Nations communities”.

There’s no doubt that when this has been discussed in the past, there have been big reservations held by some of our First Nations communities.

He urged those voicing such concerns should discuss the matter with the “powerhouse” of Indigenous MPs including Malarndirri McCarthy and Marion Scrymgour.

Gosling himself has “reservations” over expanding euthanasia access, but said the bill was about the democratic rights of territories to make their own laws. He said he was reaching out to senators to lay out that distinction, including writing to the new Coalition senator for the NT, Jacinta Price.

Payne said it was important to stress that the bill would not automatically expand euthanasia access; rather, it would be up to territories to advance any such legislation themselves.

It just means that we want to have the debate, and I really respect those in the federal parliament who may not support voluntary assisted dying but support our right to have the debate.

The ACT’s chief minister, Andrew Barr, joined the press conference. He said there was “optimism” the bill would pass, and said the ACT legislative assembly would pursue its own careful process once the bill was successful.

We would have a process that will run for a number of years, it would not be a quick or straightforward process.

Key events

Mike Bowers was in the blue room (the second most fancy press conference location for governments) as Madeleine King spoke about the ACCC gas report.

The Resources and Northern Australia Minister Madeleine King at a press conference
The Resources and Northern Australia Minister Madeleine King at a press conference Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian
Peter Hannam

Peter Hannam

What’s missing between today’s ACCC gas report and January’s?

To underscore the different approach being taken with the Albanese government – and the ACCC –on gas supply, here are a couple of extra points.

The resource minister, Madeleine King, said it would be “lunacy” to try to browbeat NSW and Victoria over gas, noting that previous efforts by the Morrison government basically got nowhere.

In 2020, to refresh a few memories, the federal government and the then Berejiklian governments were cheering a deal that was supposed to inject 70 petajoules of extra gas into the east coast market – mainly through the development of the Narrabri gasfield in northern NSW.

In exchange, the NSW government would tap into $3bn to support the roll-out (think transmission lines) for renewable energy. As a few people noted at the time, there was no consequence if NSW did nothing.

Anyway, the seemingly interminable approval for that Narrabri field has trundled along with Santos still to make a final financial sign-off of the deal.

That’s another way of saying: nothing extra can happen in terms of new gas supplies in the near term. It’s all about making sure what “excess” or uncontracted gas there’s floating around (some 167PJ of gas) doesn’t all get sucked up and shipped overseas.

Not the biggest ask, you’ve have to say, given we’ll be paying over-the-odds for it anyway (and way more than it’s costing to produce).

But the other point worth noting is what was in the January ACCC report
but isn’t in this one.

Whereas that previous one highlighted “bans, moratoria and other regulatory restrictions on onshore exploration and development”, you won’t find words like that in this new ACCC report.

Similarly absent are paragraphs like this:

Government processes may be contributing to the lack of diversity and the slower development of new sources of supply. Governments play an important role in influencing the development of gas in the east coast gas market, with states and territories responsible for releasing acreage, granting permits to explore for, appraise and produce gas in tenements located onshore and within three nautical miles of the coast.

Guess what, that’s gone too. Quite an interesting point of difference, by the looks of it.

Albanese: People respond to a bit of honesty and integrity in politics

Anthony Albanese has maintained his chats with Adelaide radio 5AA, something he used to do with Christopher Pyne and then did himself when Pyne retired.

He is asked by the host about his Newspoll approval ratings (61% approve of the job he is doing so far) and said:

Oh look I’m not a commentator, and polls will go up and down. I’m just doing the job that I was elected to do … when you get some positive feedback, that’s good. But it won’t always be, so I’m very conscious about that. But I believe people are responding to the positive agenda that the new government is setting, I have an extraordinarily talented team … that have come into government, a mix of vast experience.

People like Penny Wong, our Senate leader, a great South Australian, and so many others from South Australia, Amanda Rishworth, Mark Butler, and Don Farrell are all cabinet ministers. They are all people of great capacity, who are making an enormous difference to the nation. I think that that experience as well, we have come into government, we’re trying to get things done, put in place measures that we committed to prior to the election, and achieve outcomes for people.

And where we need to tell people exactly what is going on, even if the message is difficult, like Jim Chalmers was last week. I think people respond to a bit of honesty and integrity in politics as well.

Greens: Get rid of negative gearing and capital gains tax in the housing market

Nick McKim also has thoughts on the housing market as a whole:

The government also needs to step in to help new-owners and renters.

Having lured new homeowners into taking on record levels of debt, the RBA is now punishing them doubly.

Interest rate rises reduce the value of their asset and increase their monthly mortgage repayments.

Getting rid of negative gearing and capital gains tax would reduce demand in the housing market without affecting mortgage repayments for homeowners.

And the additional revenue could help fund 1 million new social houses that will provide renters with an affordable and secure alternative to the Hunger Games that is Australia’s private rental market.

Greens: RBA ‘needs to hit pause’

The Greens’ treasury spokesperson, Nick McKim, says the RBA should not raise rates tomorrow and people should not be paying the price to solve inflation rises:

The RBA needs to hit pause. Inflation is being driven by supply side shocks and corporate profiteering. Jacking up interest rates will not fix these problems.

The RBA needs to be honest about this with the Australian public. Monetary policy cannot curb inflation without punishing workers, renters and new homeowners, none of whom are the cause of the problem.

They should not increase rates tomorrow. And the treasurer needs to step in and use the levers that the Australian public have given him.

We need a super profits tax to reign in corporate profiteering and to fund cost-of-living relief, such as free childcare and putting dental care and mental health into Medicare.

We can’t wait for the government’s review to get fiscal and monetary policy working together. A failure to use fiscal policy will only increase the likelihood of the RBA overreaching.

King: former approach of attacking states didn’t work

Asked about her approach not to push the states around or tell them what they should be doing about gas pipelines, Madeleine King says:

I would note, the former minister, the resources or energy minister, the approach they took of attacking state governments didn’t work, did it? The evidence is here today. Those situations have not changed in those states.

It would seem like lunacy to follow that path and also it is not my style. I don’t think it is helpful to beat people over the head.

I don’t think it is helpful to refer to legislation as a big stick. It is not helpful to call it a trigger either, to be honest. It is just language.

We need to work together on these things. I know the states are very activated around their energy needs.

They will have to have a pretty decent think about what needs to happen. As for Narrabri itself, there is a lot of approvals required. I am not sure if there is anyone in particular to blame on this, whether it is the proponents [or] some of the applications may be lacking? I don’t know.

The state government … my understanding is Matt Kean is keen on that being developed. There is a lot to work through. I am not here to push people around.

Resources minister: no utility in breaking long-term contracts for gas supply

Q: So is the answer to send less to China to ensure Australian supply?

Madeleine King:

These are international long-term contracts. They are important. There is no utility in Australia seeking to break international long term contracts. We depend on international investment, not just for gas, for iron ore development, for so many things in this country, we want to be known and remain, as we are known, as a reliable trading partner.

Madeleine King
The resources minister, Madeleine King, at a press conference in the blue room of Parliament House. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

King: gas supply is a matter for the states

Madeleine King is asked whether or not she wants the NSW government to look at getting more gas into the system, like from the Narrabri pipeline:

It is important that state governments and territories look at what is available to them. I am not here to tell them what to do. They will make their own decisions for their own communities.

It is logical to me as the federal resources minister that more reserves closer to where consumers are makes more sense rather than trying to force things down pipelines that aren’t big enough or ship things around the country which will make gas more expensive. Those are matters for the state governments to address and I am sure they are looking at it.

Peter Hannam

Peter Hannam

Resource minister refuses to call on states to permit further gas developments

Madeleine King, the resources minister, has been giving part of the government’s response to the rather critical ACCC report on gas, as we reported here (and the original report is here).

The ACCC report is damning, there’s no doubt about it.

The main response, though, is that the government will extend the so-called gas trigger (which is not much of a trigger at all) otherwise known as the Australian Domestic Gas Security Mechanism (ADGSM) out to 2030. It was due to expire in January, but its effectiveness has been widely questioned given it’s quite a process to pull the trigger.

A strengthened ADGSM will work alongside the new heads of agreement, and ensure the government can respond quickly to short-term issues rather than only respond to forecast shortfalls a year in advance.

Several journalists have tried to prod King to call on the states to remove barriers to onshore gas developments, including Santos’s Narrabri projects in NSW and a couple in Victoria. King, though, isn’t biting on this one, saying it’s a matter for the states.

In fact, the ACCC (unlike previous gas reviews) notably does not prod the states on new gasfield developments either. In other words, the issue is not the availability of uncontracted gas but where it’s going – and that’s about 70% of it going overseas.

Gas lobby group: industry stood up when the east coast needed us this winter and we will do so again now

Meanwhile, the acting chief executive of the fossile fuel industry lobby group Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA), Damian Dwyer, says there won’t be a shortfall in domestic supply:

There has never been an actual shortfall and there will not be one next year – this is the ACCC signalling that action is needed, and the industry will act.

The report also shows contract prices for gas delivered into the market in 2022 and for delivery into the market in 2023 remained competitive. The report found, for example, that prices paid for gas supply agreements for delivery into southern states falling from $11.50/GJ in January-August 2021 to $9.25/GJ in September 2021-February 2022.

While prices for delivery in 2023 have increased, they remain well below international prices.

We very much understand our obligation to Australians and the importance they place on gas in running their homes and businesses, and that will be honoured.

Dwyer says the pressure on the system is because of outside influences:

It has been confirmed by Aemo just last week that the reason for pressure on the system is the extraordinary and rapid demand for gas we have seen this winter because of the extreme pressure on the broader energy system.

There have been major coal-fired generations outages and renewable generation not stepping up when required due to bad weather as well as a cooler winter and immense pressures on the global energy market due to the Russian invasion of the Ukraine.

The industry stood up when the east coast needed us this winter and we will do so again now as we have done for decades, providing safe and reliable energy supply.

CEFC director calls for carbon exports super profits tax

Meanwhile, the director of Climate Energy Finance, Tim Buckley, says it is time for a carbon exports super profits tax:

The ACCC report highlights, yet again, there is no gas production shortage in eastern Australia. Production has trebled since 2015 and we – domestic consumers and domestic industry – use less than a third of this production.

Two thirds of east Australia’s fossil gas production is exported, and the absence of any effective price or volume regulations over multinational use of Australia’s public resource means the domestic market is held to ransom, paying at or above export price parity. The gas cartel has manufactured an east Australia energy crisis, all while they are war profiteering.

Now is the time for a carbon export super profits tax, and a domestic gas reservation. A carbon export tax would provide an immediate price signal to supply domestic gas customers first, and would immediately lower the price. The bigger the export tax impost, the bigger the reduction to domestic customers to use our own gas.

We have a concurrent fiscal, energy and climate crisis – a carbon export tax would help solve all three.

Resources minister: government extending domestic gas security mechanism until 2030

The ACCC’s warning on gas supply has created a chain reaction of, well, reactions, this morning.

The minister for resources, Madeleine King, says the government is doing what it can to ensure supply:

Following consultations … the government will extend the ADGSM [Australian Domestic Gas Security Mechanism] until 2030, with a review due in 2025. The ADGSM is currently due to expire in January 2023.

Because the previous government failed to extend the mechanism beyond its current sunset clause, the so-called trigger cannot be pulled until the regulations are updated. This urgent work is underway.

Once the mechanism is available, I will take the first step in activating it.

The Albanese government will ensure Australian householders and businesses continue to have access to reliable energy supplies and we will take whatever steps are needed to avoid a repeat of the crisis we faced in early June.

Based on the forecast shortfall, the government needs to see firm commitments out of the east coast LNG exporters.

I will continue to work with gas and LNG producers, as well as state and territory governments to encourage new supply, and to find industry-led solutions to secure Australia’s ongoing energy needs.

The government is also talking with key trading partners to reassure them that Australia remains a trusted trading partner and a stable and reliable exporter of resources and energy.

The ADGSM is a measure of last resort which allows the government, in the event of a predicted shortfall, to restrict exports to ensure enough gas is available for domestic use.

Aukus steering group releases progress report

The US has released the readout from the recent Aukus steering group meeting – here is what the US says was discussed:

The Joint Steering Group for Australia’s Nuclear-Powered Submarine Program met on July 25-28, continuing its progress on defining the optimal pathway to provide Australia with conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines at the earliest possible date while ensuring the highest standards of nuclear stewardship, including the responsible planning, operation, application and management of nuclear material, technology and facilities.

The participants took stock of ongoing progress to deliver on our leaders’ commitment to set the highest possible non-proliferation standards, including through continued close consultation with the International Atomic Energy Agency. They welcomed the publication of the working paper on “Cooperation under the Aukus partnership” for the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

The paper details our proposal to provide complete power units to Australia, Australia’s commitment that it will not conduct enrichment, reprocessing or fuel fabrication in connection with its nuclear-powered submarine program, and our engagement with the IAEA to find a suitable verification approach. They noted the introductory remarks of the IAEA director general to the June board of governors in which he expressed “satisfaction with the engagement and transparency shown by the three countries thus far” and noted that he plans to present a report on Aukus to the September Board.

The Joint Steering Group for Advanced Capabilities met on July 28-29, reviewing progress across critical defence capabilities. The participants decided to bolster combined military capabilities, including by accelerating near-term capabilities in hypersonics and counter-hypersonics, as well as cyber. They also recommitted to deepening cooperation on information-sharing and other previously agreed working groups. As work progresses on these and other critical defence capabilities, we will seek opportunities to engage allies and close partners.

Josh Butler

Josh Butler

Bill to permit legislating assisted dying laws for territories expected to pass

Northern Territory Labor MP Luke Gosling admits some Indigenous communities have “big reservations” about the expansion of access to euthanasia, but has implored his colleagues to support his bill on territory rights.

Gosling and his Canberra colleague Alicia Payne have co-sponsored a private member’s bill this morning in parliament, which would restore the right for the NT and Australian Capital Territory to make their own laws on voluntary assisted dying – which the territories are currently prevented from doing.

Labor will grant members a conscience vote.

Supporters believe the bill will pass through the House and Senate, but several Labor MPs are expected to vote against the territory rights push due to their opposition to euthanasia. Conservative lobby groups, as well as the Labor senator Pat Dodson, claim the expansion of assisted dying may discourage some people in Indigenous communities from accessing healthcare.

Luke Gosling
The member for Solomon Luke Gosling introduces the restoring territory rights bill into the House of Representatives this morning. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

In a press conference following the introduction of the bill, Gosling – the member for the NT seat of Solomon – said the debate must be had with “sensitivity and awareness of these issues and how they affect First Nations communities”.

There’s no doubt that when this has been discussed in the past, there have been big reservations held by some of our First Nations communities.

He urged those voicing such concerns should discuss the matter with the “powerhouse” of Indigenous MPs including Malarndirri McCarthy and Marion Scrymgour.

Gosling himself has “reservations” over expanding euthanasia access, but said the bill was about the democratic rights of territories to make their own laws. He said he was reaching out to senators to lay out that distinction, including writing to the new Coalition senator for the NT, Jacinta Price.

Payne said it was important to stress that the bill would not automatically expand euthanasia access; rather, it would be up to territories to advance any such legislation themselves.

It just means that we want to have the debate, and I really respect those in the federal parliament who may not support voluntary assisted dying but support our right to have the debate.

The ACT’s chief minister, Andrew Barr, joined the press conference. He said there was “optimism” the bill would pass, and said the ACT legislative assembly would pursue its own careful process once the bill was successful.

We would have a process that will run for a number of years, it would not be a quick or straightforward process.

Albanese: clean energy will create greatest transformation in economy since Industrial Revolution

From that same interview:

Jake Tapper:

The climate crisis is here … by the time world leaders, including India and China and the United States, all get together and agree to do something significant, won’t it be too late?

Anthony Albanese:

Well, I certainly hope not. And I’m very optimistic.

At the Madrid Nato Summit, I had discussions with world leaders and also, of course, at the Quad Leaders’ meeting. And I regard people as being very prepared to take much stronger action.

There’s a greater recognition now as well that dealing with the challenge of climate change represents also an economic opportunity. We will see the greatest transformation that we have seen in our economy since the Industrial Revolution with the shift to clean energy.

And clean energy will, of course, see jobs being created at the same time, something that the Biden administration recognises, something that our European friends certainly recognise as well.

Albanese on Taiwan: ‘not in the interests of peace and security to talk up issues of potential conflict’

Anthony Albanese spoke to CNN’s Jake Tapper about a range of issues, including Taiwan. From the transcript:

Tapper:

The CIA director, William Burns, recently said that it’s not a question of if, but when and how China will try to invade Taiwan.

If China attacks Taiwan, would Australia defend Taiwan militarily?

Albanese:

Look, we’re not dealing with hypotheticals, as have Australian governments taken that position in the past.

Australia supports a one-China policy, but we also support the status quo when it comes to the issue of Taiwan, that people respect the existing structures which are there. I believe that clearly is in the interests of all parties.

And I have taken the view as well that it is not in the interests of peace and security to talk up those issues of potential conflict.





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