Prime Minister Anthony Albanese slams Coalition over attending ‘cooker fest’
Anthony Albanese has hit out at the Coalition over the attendance of several senior Liberal ministers at a London conference led by controversial conservative commentator Jordan Peterson in October.
In response to a question from Nationals leader David Littleproud about Labor ‘wasting’ $450m on the referendum, Mr Albanese took aim at what he called the coalition endorsing an event ‘funded by hedge fund billionaires.”
“This is a mob who across the Liberal and National parties, they recently had the largest international parliamentary delegation since Federation. 15 of them! 15 of them went to a conference in London,” the Prime Minister said.
“A conference about the future with guest speakers like John Howard, who had a lot to say about multiculturalism [ …] and Tony Abbott, saying that climate change was both ahistorical and utterly implausible.
“They went all that way to back multiculturalism and to bag climate change.”
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‘Sack him’: Dutton’s big call
Peter Dutton has called for Immigration Minister Andrew Giles to be fired as a political showdown over the release of hundreds of immigration detainees following a historic High Court ruling rages on.
In an attack during question time, Mr Dutton sought to move a motion for the House to express its “grave concern that the Albanese government’s catastrophic handling of the High Court case.”
He called for the immigration minister to either resign or be sacked by Prime Minister Albanese.
“The government released child rapists, murderers, sex offenders, people smugglers, drug dealers and outlaw motorcycle members – many of these criminals are repeat offenders and are almost certain to reoffend,” Mr Dutton declared.
Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said the motion was a “truly pathetic stunt”.
“Instead of supporting our attempts to criminalise pedophiles who were near daycare centres and schools, the leader of the opposition came in here and played politics instead,” she said.
PM “appalled” by pro-Palestinian act
The Prime Minister said he was “appalled” after protesters targeted family members of Israelis who were killed or taken hostage by Hamas in Melbourne on Wednesday night.
A group of 20 people waving Palestinian flags and holding banners stormed what appeared to be the lobby of the Crowne Plaza about 11.30pm.
They targeted a delegation of five Israelis who travelled to Australia to ask political leaders to call for the release of their loved ones by Hamas.
“What we saw last night in Melbourne at a hotel in Docklands goes beyond the right of people to peacefully protest in our democratic country,” Mr Albanese said.
“Why people would make the conscious decision to hold a protest whether families of people were staying is beyond my comprehension.
“I am appalled by the actions of these protesters and I condemn them. This does nothing to advance the cause of the Palestinian people.”
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the protest was an act of “depravity” and called for authorities to immediately arrest the organisers involved.
“The fact that people were slaughtered, people have been held captive, tortured, raped, murdered, and somehow people have seen fit to occupy a hotel lobby or to maintain a presence where they think they can intimidate the families of those victims has no place in our country whatsoever,” he said.
Wong questioned over Israeli-delegation safety incident
Meanwhile in the Senate, Foreign Minister Penny Wong, has answered questions about an incident in which families Israeli hostages sought protection in a Melbourne police station overnight.
The delegation was confronted by a group of pro-Palestine protesters at the lobby of their hotel on Wednesday evening. Independent senator David Van asked what was being done to ensure the safety of delegations such as this one in the wake of the incident.
Senator Wong, who met with the delegation earlier this week, said the actions were beyond contempt. “What I would say to people in this country is we all have our beliefs, and some people in this country have very different beliefs on this issue,” she said.
“As I have said many times in this place, the strength of your conviction about your view should not override your fundamental decency and your recognising the humanity of the other.
“I think it is disturbing, distressing, and it does nothing to advance the cause for peace in the region.
“We will always denounce anti-Semitism and we all should.”
Dutton presses Albanese over Xi Talks
Kicking off question time, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton pressed Mr Albanese on whether he raised the injury of Australian divers by a Chinese sonar with President Xi Jinping.
“I put on the record a number of times the difference between private discussions which the leader of the opposition has said would not, should not, be disclosed himself,” the PM said, defending his response.
“We’ve been very clear … the event was unsafe in a professional, and we communicated that very directly in a calm and consistent way.”
Mr Albanese hit back at Mr Dutton saying he would not take advice from the Opposition on managing Australia’s international relationships.
“You couldn’t even get a phone call,” Mr Albanese said.
Labor accuses Peter Dutton of ‘protecting pedophiles’
Peter Dutton has demanded an apology from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Aged Care Minister Anika Wells after she agreed that the Opposition Leader was a “protector of pedophiles”.
The comments, first aired by Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neal in question time on Wednesday, came after the government first accused Mr Dutton of not using discretion to deport a convicted pedophile while immigration minister, instead allowing him to reapply for a visa.
That stateless Rohingya man from Myanmar raped a young boy, who was held in indefinite detention, and went on to challenge the government in the High Court. The decision, known as NZYQ, overturned 20 years of precedent and 141 people held in indefinite detention were freed.
The parliament quickly passed legislation after the High Court decision that requires the detainees to wear electronic monitors and abide by strict curfews and stay away from schools.
The government then introduced further legislation on Monday that the Coalition did not support, arguing it was “too weak” and needed preventive detention.
This prompted the government to claim Mr Dutton cared more about pedophiles than he did children.
Ms Wells was asked on Thursday morning whether she agreed that Mr Dutton was protecting pedophiles.
“Yes (I agree) … Peter Dutton did not support laws that we brought in earlier this week to make it a criminal offence for convicted pedophiles to go near schools,” she told Channel 9.
Mr Dutton rejected Labor’s claims he had defended child abusers.
Dutton hits back
Mr Dutton accused Ms Wells of speaking about matters she had no idea on.
He disputed claims the Coalition had voted to protect criminals on Monday, instead arguing the opposition wanted to make the laws tighter.
He also spoke about his extensive history as a police officer and the work he had done to tackle child sex abuse.
“I’ve arrested sex offenders before, it is one of my life’s passions to make sure that women and kids are safe and I feel very genuinely and deeply about it …. I think I am owed an apology from Anika Wells and the Prime Minister, but we’ll see if they’re big enough to make that apology,” Mr Dutton told 2GB.
“No wonder they’re panicking and this is a complete and utter disaster, so the personal attacks, yes, they hurt, but they don’t mean anything to me because it’s a complete opposite of who I am or what I believe … this is a desperate prime minister running out of options and he’s in real trouble.”
He said he had not seen “this level of dysfunction” since the last Labor government.
‘Embarrassed herself’: Coalition demands apology
The Coalition’s home affairs spokesman James Paterson said Ms Wells had “embarrassed herself and the federal government” and should apologise.
He suggested the comments were defamatory and pointed to his leader’s long history as a police officer in which he was particularly focused on protecting children.
“To stoop to this low shows how desperate this government is,” Senator Paterson said.
“It’s sad and they should be ashamed of themselves.”
He said if Ms Wells didn’t apologise on her own volition, Mr Albanese should step in.
The Prime Minister’s office was contacted for comment.
The government will next week introduce legislation for a preventive detention regime that holds the released detainees to the same standard as terrorists. It’s calling on the opposition to support it.
Senator Paterson questioned why the government had to wait until next week when it could be sorted on Thursday.
The House of Representatives is scheduled to come back for just one day next week, while the Senate will sit all week.
“It should be introduced today. It should pass today,” he said.
“If necessary, we’ll sit late tonight. If necessary, we’ll come back tomorrow. If necessary, we’ll sit all weekend.
“We don’t think we should wait any longer.”
Labor won’t let it rain on water parade
A victory lap celebrating the passage of Labor’s Murray Darling Basin plan was interrupted by, of all things, rain.
The cast of Labor senators and MPs from South Australia, Victoria and the ACT received a light drenching while they flanked Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to laud the bill’s passage on Thursday.
The bill, which will remove a cap on buybacks and extend the plan, passed after Labor struck deals for support from the Greens and the crossbench.
“This is one the biggest things any government has done for the environment in a decade,” she told reporters in Canberra.
“I said from day one that I was determined to deliver the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in full, including the 450GL of water for the environment. That’s what I’ve done.”
South Australian senator, and former water minister, Penny Wong was the first to make light of the blustery conditions.
“I was water minister and I had the millennium drought. Tanya is (the) water minister, and she makes it rain,” she laughed.
“She’s obviously doing a good job.”
The Coalition voted against the plan and Water spokeswoman Perin Davey slammed the government for keeping the final cost of the reform “shrouded in secretary”.
“There is nothing in the Bill that has passed the Senate today for Basin Communities and nothing that will guarantee a better environmental outcome,” she said.
“The only winners here are the States who get more time – and good for them. But at what cost to communities, to jobs and to taxpayers.”
Greens water spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young called the bill a “huge breakthrough”.
Price supports decision to scrap Acknowledgement of Country.
A South Australian council’s decision to remove an Acknowledgement of Country has been welcomed by Jactina Nampijinpa Price.
The Northern Areas Council passed a motion to dump the practice from its meetings and remove it from all official council correspondence.
The opposition Indigenous Australians spokeswoman said she felt many Australians felt the act was “contrived” and had become “highly … politicised”.
“I think some people feel like, well, I belong here too. I was born here, in Australia, and so on and so forth,” she told Sydney’s 2GB.
“I think councils can certainly find other ways to reflect the history of their communities in terms of the historical context of the First Peoples that come from those communities.”
The Nationals senator, who was a key figure in the No campaign for the Voice to parliament, said Welcome to Country should be reserved “probably for special events”.
“I think if it, you know, if it saved a single life on the ground, if it actually impacted somebody’s life in a significant way, then yeah, go for it,” she said
“But I think Australians are now at the point where they want to feel like everybody should be included.”
Asked about an incident in which attendees of a Liberal Party state conference booed an Acknowledgement of Country, Senator Nampijinpa Price said she thought that went a bit far.
“We don’t want to go that far, but I think a lot of these issues have been shoved down Australians throats,” she said.
“I think we’ve got to get back to a sense of everybody belongs to this country.”
Minister’s bushfire warningAustralians have been urged to prepare for what is likely to be a significant bushfire season this summer.
The National Council for Fire and Emergency Services has released its latest seasonal outlook that predicts an increased risk of bushfire for large areas of Queensland, NSW and the Northern Territory as well as smaller regions in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.It warned that significant rainfall over the past two years had led to more vegetation growth and difficult conditions to complete hazard reduction burns, increasing the risk of large bush and grass fires.
Emergency Services Minister Murray Watt said the outlook was a clear reminder that all Australians needed to be prepared.
“The seasonal outlook helps to identify areas at higher risk and also assists local emergency services to plan and preposition resources as we head into summer,” Senator Watt said.
“Compared with the spring outlook, more capital cities are now facing increased risk, and of course, a lot of Aussies moved to new areas post-Covid, which means larger populations that may be less familiar with bushfire and heatwave preparation.
“I urge people to be aware of the local risk, update their bushfire plans and pack emergency and evacuation kits.”
Ley calls for an end to ‘crisis’
Deputy Liberal Leader Sussan Ley has declared violence against women a national crisis after reading the names of 60 women who have been killed by domestic violence this year.
In a statement to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Ms Ley despite women in Australia being killed almost daily “we are not seeing enough urgency, and we are not seeing enough coverage.”
“This is uncomfortable for us to face. But we have to reckon with this issue. We have to drag it out of the shadows and we have to confront it,” she said.
“Because what I can say without any hesitation is that too many women have been killed already this year.
“What I can say is this is a national crisis and not enough is being done about it.”
New bill to protect slavery victims
Australia will establish its first federal antislavery commissioner to assist victims of criminal offences, including human trafficking, forced labour and forced marriage.
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has introduced a Bill to amend the modern slavery act to appoint a commissioner to support survivors and engage with businesses “to address risks of modern slavery practices in their operations”.
The government has pledged to strengthen its response to modern slavery after a review tabled in August estimated there were about 40,000 slaves operating in Australia.
Mr Dreyfus said the government has allocated $8m over four years to establish a commissioner and signalled future amendments to the modern slavery act.
“The commissioner will play a key role in helping to shape the implementation of future modern slavery reforms, including those which may arise from the recent statutory review of the Modern Slavery Act 2018, which the government is currently considering,” he said.
‘Far from done’ on climate crisis
Climate Minister Chris Bowen said he was “not yet satisfied” with the government’s response to climate change after an annual report found that Australia behind on its 2023 climate targets.
Mr Bowen delivered his annual climate change statement to parliament on Thursday, shortly after The Climate Change Authority’s tabled its annual progress report.
He said climate change is an “existential, national security risk to our security partners” which “presents unprecedented challenges for our region.”
“It is likely to accentuate economic factors already fuelling political instability, including risks to water insecurity across the globe,” he said.
It came after the climate authority found the nation was falling far behind on its 20230 target of 82 per cent renewable electricity, highlighting that renewables accounted for only 32 per cent of Australia’s electricity generation in 2022.
Mr Bowen said renewables will be critical to the country’s continued future as a reliable energy supplier to the world
“Our domestic decarbonisation efforts are important but they pale in comparison to the emissions reductions achieved if we are able to harness and export our renewable energy to help countries without our abundant renewable resources to decarbonise,” he said.
Originally published as Prime Minister Anthony Albanese slams Coalition over attending ‘cooker fest’
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