Australia politics live: climate bill debate begins ahead of Greens announcing position; Albanese announces defence review

Anthony Albanese and Richard Marles announce defence review

The prime minister and defence minister are announcing the latest review into the defence force.

Anthony Albanese says:

I have commissioned this review to ensure that Australia has the necessary capability to defend ourselves in the most complex strategic environment we have encountered as a nation in over 70 years.

It’s for this reason we have appointed former minister for defence and former foreign affairs minister Professor Stephen Smith, and the former chief of the defence force, Sir Angus Houston, to lead the review.

Professor Smith and Sir Angus bring a unique blend of knowledge and experience to their role as independent leads. Their depth of expertise will be invaluable in the informing this review.

Key events

If your child is eligible for a vaccine for under five year olds – don’t try and make an appointment just yet. More information is to come before the program is rolled out next month.

Eden Gillespie

Eden Gillespie

Queensland’s Attorney-general says the state government will introduce a bill before the end of the year to better recognise trans and gender diverse people on their identity documents.

Attorney-general Shannon Fentiman told budget estimates on Wednesday that Queensland is the only state which requires trans people to undergo gender affirmation surgery before updating the gender marker on their identity documents.

That is one of the key reforms we are continuing to consult on for this bill,” she said.

Fentiman said the government was also consulting on whether the proposed changes would include non-binary people.

Greens MP Michael Berkman asked the Attorney-general when the legislation would be introduced, noting the government had promised to introduce the legislation in 2021.

Fentiman said the bill would be introduced by the end of the year and said the delay was due to several roundtables where the government received further feedback from LGBTQA+ stakeholders.

Vaccine program for children six months to five years old to start 5 September

Australia will be one of the first countries to roll out a vaccination program for this age group – but not the first.

The program won’t start until 5 September. The vaccines arrive tonight, but they have to be batch-tested. The federal health authorities will then work with the states, as the doses will mostly be rolled out through children’s hospitals.

So that is not a general recommendation for Covid vaccinations for children aged between six months and five years.

The recommendation for that age cohort is for children with a severe immune illness, a disability and complex health conditions only.

Health minister announces Covid vaccine approvals for children under 5

Mark Butler is making this announcement now:

The register of interests are being submitted:

Former home affairs minister Karen Andrews has submitted her statement of registerable interests. She lists owning 7 properties (1 residential, 6 investment) with her spouse.

— cammyboo AO (@cameronwilson) August 3, 2022

Tamsin Rose

Tamsin Rose

Investment NSW boss refutes Jenny West’s claim she was told trade job would be a ‘present’ for someone

Investment NSW head Amy Brown has refuted testimony given by former bureaucrat Jenny West to the inquiry that she told her the New York job was to be a “present” for someone else when the offer was revoked last year.

West previously told the inquiry that Brown had informed her that the job was a “present” for someone and made note of the comment at the time in her personal files.

Brown said:

I would not have used the word ‘present’. It’s not a phrase I would have used.

I also have a particular taste in my mouth around the fact that she [took notes] after personal conversations and sent it to lawyers I didn’t know she engaged.

But regardless of all of that, I would have expressed a level of disillusionment around the fact that these positions were now to be handed out by politicians.

She said that when she phoned West “it was probably more with my friend hat on”.

Investment NSW former general counsel Chris Carr also disputed West’s notes when he gave testimony before the committee.

I feel this is some inside joke made public, but happy Leo Szn Andrew Leigh.

So looks like there is consensus among the independents that the climate bill (with amendments) needs to be passed.

(A very big thank you to Paul Karp who has been tracking down the independents’ standing on the bill for you)

The independent MP for North Sydney, Kylea Tink, has also shared her views on the climate bill:

The initial draft that was shared in good faith with me as a member of the cross bench some weeks ago relied heavily on putting parliamentary and public ‘trust’ in the climate change minister to do the right thing.

The truth is that is not good enough when it comes to legislating positive change, and so I have worked with the minister to increase the role of the parliament, all members of parliament, to increase transparency and enable greater insight into what advice is being received from where and when.

The amendments that I have fought will help ensure parliamentary responsibility and accountability over the minister’s response to the scientific advice that comes forward from the climate change authority.

This is how we will keep climate policy on track, regardless of which major party may be in government.

While the floor of 43% could have been more ambitious, I believe that rather than focusing on what this bill is not, we should see it for what it is: an important signal to both our domestic and international markets on the direction we are headed.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the government on this legislation – an outcome which would not have been possible if I had not been elected as the independent for North Sydney.

We have a long way to go, and I will continue to advocate for the changes the people of North Sydney wish to see including pursuing cleaner petrol and stronger fuel efficiency standards for Australian vehicles.

But at least the conversation and positive change is underway.

Curtin independent MP Kate Chaney has also tested positive for covid (Chaney is the second on the crossbench after Helen Haines) so she won’t be able to move her amendments to Labor’s climate bill.

Kooyong independent MP Monique Ryan will move Chaney’s amendments instead:

“In recent weeks, I have collaborated with the other crossbenchers to ensure that between us, we are proposing a suite of compatible amendments, some of which are no doubt more likely to be accepted than others,” Ms Chaney said.

Ms Chaney has specifically worked on an amendment to ensure the Bill clearly states that its intention is to actually drive climate action and is linked to the science. This amendment to the Objects clause of the Bill will be relevant in future reviews of the Bill’s efficacy and in any interpretation of the Bill.

“The current draft shows that the Government has already taken into account some feedback provided by me and other crossbenchers.

“The inclusion of an Objects clause that addresses targets, accountability, expert advice and the need for climate action in line with the science makes it clear that this is the beginning of a new era in Australia.

Zali Steggall said something very similar to this, this morning:

Business needs an emissions reduction target to invest with certainty. The Climate Change Bill isn’t perfect, but it’s a vast improvement on what we’ve got. Let’s pass the bill – a first step to protecting the environment and unleashing Australia’s clean energy potential.

— Allegra Spender (@spenderallegra) August 3, 2022

Paul Karp

Paul Karp

Bill on excluding rent-free housing from public servants’ super payments passes Senate

The Senate has passed Labor’s bill to ensure that defined benefits superannuation is not paid on rent-free housing for public servants. It sailed through 40 votes to 12 with the Coalition and David Pocock supporting Labor; and only the Greens opposed.

On Wednesday Labor MPs were told the potential claim on the government was worth between $3bn and $8bn for about 10,000 public servants between 1986 and 2022.

The finance minister, Katy Gallagher, said retrospective legislation was required to prevent “widespread, significant, unintended and inequitable” consequences.
The bill was introduced in the Senate, and will now go to the House of Representatives where it should pass easily.


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