News live: minister says Australia could walk away from EU trade deal; data shows a quarter of homes bought mortgage-free

EU trade talks reach ‘difficult stage’, agriculture minister says

Australia’s talks have stalled for a trade deal with Europe that would give Australian producers access to a market with a GDP of $20tn.

The geographic indicators (the naming rights to foods including feta and prosecco) are the sticking point potentially blocking access for Australian products to European markets.

The agriculture minister, Murray Watt, says Australia has said it could walk away from the deal if it can’t get the kind of market access it is seeking.

He’s telling ABC Radio about the outcome of two days of trade talks in Brussels:

I actually spoke to Don Farrell, the trade minister, last night. He’s just finished two days of trade talks in Brussels … negotiations that he’s just undertaken have reached a difficult stage.

We’ve obviously been very clear about our position from the beginning of these negotiations that we really need to see some commercially meaningful expansion of new markets for our producers for this deal to be worth doing.

We’re not going to do with the or just for the sake of doing a deal, it’s got to be in Australia’s interests as well as being in the EU’s interests. We still think that that is possible to do that.

Key events

Shadow defence minister Andrew Hastie is refusing to apologise after being accused of misrepresenting the views of former high court judges in his speech during the debate on the constitution alteration bill for the voice.

The attorney-general Mark Dreyfus has called for Hastie to apologise to former chief justice Robert French and former judge Kenneth Hayne as well as to the parliament when it returns for the “flagrant” misrepresentation, the Nine papers reports.

It’s disappointing to see these senior Liberals spreading this sort of misinformation.

The facts are clear – the Voice to Parliament is constitutionally sound and would enhance our system of government.

— Mark Dreyfus (@MarkDreyfusKCMP) June 6, 2023

Hastie’s speech was based on the dissenting report to the parliamentary inquiry, on behalf of Liberal Party members, which picked only portions of the answers from two former High Court judges who are both prominent supporters of the voice.

In a statement entitled “no apologies from me,” Hastie said:

Labor are calling on me to apologise for this speech.

No apology will be given.

We are one people. We are one country.

I won’t be silent about the risks that Labor’s Voice poses to Australia’s political unity and social cohesion.

Benita Kolovos

Benita Kolovos

Candidates line up for Liberal preselection in Warrandyte

Nine candidates have nominated for Liberal preselection in the Victorian seat of Warrandyte after the resignation of MP Ryan Smith last week.

They include former candidates at the 2022 state election Nicole Werner, Jason McClintock and David Farrelly, KPMG director Sarah Overton and former Institue of Public Affairs executive director John Roskam.

There are also former staffers including Jemma Townson, who has worked for Matthew Guy and Katie Allen, Antonietta di Cosmo, who has worked for Smith, and John Howard staffer Allison Troth.

Manningham councillor and maths teacher ­Andrew Conlon has also thrown his hat into the ring.

Neither the former Kew MP Tim Smith nor his former electorate officer and vice-president of the federal Liberals, Caroline Inge, ended up nominating, despite declaring an interest.

After 16 years in parliament, Smith, a former leadership aspirant, announced last week he would step down on 7 July, triggering a byelection in his north-east Melbourne seat.

Smith suggested party negativity had played a part in his decision, just three weeks after the expulsion from the party room of Moira Deeming.

Miscarriage care integral to health of women, Palaszczuk says

Appropriate care for miscarriages is “absolutely” integral to the health of women, Annastacia Palaszczuk says:

It is a traumatic time, as I said you never get over it. There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t think about it. Other women are out there too. The health system needs to respond – so many times we focus on the woman having the baby, not the person who has lost the baby.

She goes on to reveal she was in shock and went into work on the day she lost her own child:

This is probably the first time I have spoken about it so publicly.

I had it in my house, I went to work, I was completely in shock. And then I thought I’d better call my specialist and I went in to my specialist. He said, “I don’t think you should be at work, you should be at home.”

This was many, many years ago, of course, before I was a politician but I know the trauma that goes through with women. It is heartbreaking, it is very hurtful and you’re in shock and you don’t know what to do.

‘I’ve also had a miscarriage,’ Palaszczuk tells breakfast television

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has opened up about having a miscarriage while answering a question on breakfast television about the state of the health system.

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on a visit to a hospital in Brisbane last month
Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on a visit to a hospital in Brisbane last month. Photograph: Darren England/AAP

The Courier-Mail yesterday revealed a woman was left sitting in her own blood for hours after a miscarriage at Ipswich hospital.

Palaszczuk told the Today show:

I’ve also had a miscarriage. I do know exactly what it’s like. It is horrific and stays with you for the rest of your life.

I do feel for the woman involved here and I’m going to be personally involved with the minister to ensure that these things do definitely do not happen again in our public hospitals.

It’s not acceptable. I don’t think it’s right and the health minister is convening an urgent roundtable to discuss these very important issues.

Dreyfus stands by Higgins decision

Mark Dreyfus said the text messages that have been published between Brittany Higgins and her partner did not raise any questions about the actions of then Labor frontbenchers that need to be further investigated.

The Australian this morning reports that text messages between Higgins and boyfriend David Sharaz have suggested the pair had contact with senior Labor politicians who the couple believed could support the claim.

Lisa Millar:

You’re confident of that, though? You’re confident you have all the information you need?


I made the decision to settle this claim in accordance with the legal services direction. It was an entirely regular decision. None of those texts are new.

‘Linda Reynolds can do what she likes’

Circling back to the attorney general’s interview with ABC News, Mark Dreyfus says Liberal senator Linda Reynolds can make whatever referral she likes to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nacc), as “anyone is free to make a referral”.

As my colleague Josh Butler reports this morning, Reynolds says she may raise a government compensation payment made to her former staffer Brittany Higgins with the Nacc, highlighting concerns about the speed of the process and the “fairness” of the Labor government’s handling of the case.

Linda Reynolds in the Senate
Linda Reynolds in the Senate. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Higgins alleges she was raped by fellow staffer Bruce Lehrmann in the senator’s office. Lehrmann was charged but vehemently denied the allegations and maintained his innocence. The initial trial was aborted last year due to jury misconduct and prosecutors dropped the charges against Lehrmann amid concerns about the impact a second trial could have on Higgins’ mental health.

Dreyfus says:

This decision, which I made, was made as in exactly the same way as attorneys general for many, many years, under the legal services direction. It was an entirely regular decision.

And Linda Reynolds can do what she likes. Anyone is free to make a referral to the National Anti-Corruption Commission if that’s what she wants to do.

It’s an independent decision by the National Anti-Corruption Commission and I have made it very, very clear, I’m not going have quotes about what the National Anti-Corruption Commission should or not be doing.

A quarter of homes are bought mortgage-free, property data firm says

More than a quarter of homes were bought without a mortgage last year, suggesting there’s a sizeable cohort insulated from aggressive interest rate rises, AAP reports.

Roughly 25% of all sales in the eastern states – both dwellings and land – were made without a mortgage, according to the property data firm PEXA.

The analysis suggests the proportion of cash purchases has stayed relatively stable since before the arrival of Covid-19 but the total value has been trending higher since the pandemic property boom.

About $122.5bn worth of homes were cash funded in 2022, making up 25.6% of all residential sales in NSW, Queensland and Victoria.

This was slightly less than the $124.8bn worth of housing exchanged without a home loan in 2021 but well above the $83.6bn recorded in 2020.

PEXA head of research Mike Gill said the data suggested most cash buyers were older homeowners who had already paid off their mortgages and were buying a home to retire in.

‘There’s no place in Australia for people who want to glorify the horrors of the Holocaust’

Attorney general Mark Dreyfus says the rise in far-right violent activity prompted the move to ban Nazi symbols. He tells ABC News:

We think this is a very small number of people, in fact I’m hoping it’s getting smaller and it will eventually disappear.

We need to send a message there’s no place in Australia for this kind of behaviour. There’s no place in Australia for people who want to glorify the horrors of the Holocaust.

It would have been unthinkable, going back a few decades. It’s concerning it’s crept a little bit into the life of our country.

Dreyfus will introduce a bill next week to make it an offence to publicly display the Nazi Hakenkreuz – the swastika – and the SS Schutzstaffel symbol, or things that closely resemble them, but not the salute:

That’s more a matter for state governments. We don’t have Australian federal police on the street. There’s state police on the street dealing with street behaviour like this. It’s better dealt with by state laws.

Peter Hannam

Peter Hannam

Sydney’s main dam may face threats under ‘extreme and rare’ floods

Back in May, we got wind of some interesting briefings for incoming New South Wales Labor ministers in relation to Sydney’s main dam at Warragamba.

Warragamba dam west of Sydney
Warragamba dam west of Sydney. Photograph: Carly Earl/The Guardian

Our report prompted premier Chris Minns to say authorities were looking at “geotechnical” issues related to the geology under the giant dam wall.

Well now we have more details to reveal about what those issues were and how WaterNSW and Dam Safety NSW are examining them:

To be clear, there is no immediate threat to the wall but the extensive work that will be done to understand the nature of risk could eventually result in work to thicken or buttress the wall.

At this stage, raising its height – the subject of much debate – is not being contemplated, water minister Rose Jackson tells us.

A better understanding of the parameters around climate change and how it might worsen very extreme and rare flood events is part of the reason for the reassessment. Work to understand what raising the dam wall would mean for the seam that the wall sits on was another prompt for the review, according to WaterNSW.

Police officer hit and dragged by car in Perth

A police officer is in a critical condition after being run over and dragged underneath a car in the early hours of the morning in Perth.

About 1am this morning, police say, officers were following a vehicle with stolen plates when the car came to a stop in Ascot.

The officers were attempting to detain the three people in the car when WA police say:

One of the officers was run over and dragged underneath the vehicle.

The officer was administered CPR by his colleagues at the scene and was conveyed to Royal Perth Hospital in a critical condition.

Three people are currently in custody assisting with inquiries.


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