August 3, 2023

Australia news LIVE: Skyrocketing premiums push government to broaden insurance probe; Debate over housing bill continues

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Damning findings against Shane Drumgold in Lehrmann inquiry

By Angus Thompson

ACT top prosecutor Shane Drumgold SC lied to the Supreme Court in the lead up to the rape trial of former Coalition staffer Bruce Lehrmann, a report into the handling of the high-profile case has found.

The inquiry helmed by former Queensland Supreme Court judge Walter Sofronoff has made several damning findings about the conduct of the territory’s Director of Public Prosecutions, including that he improperly questioned Liberal senator Linda Reynolds during the trial.

ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold is the subject of damning findings by a high-profile inquiry.Credit: Rhett Wyman

Comment has been sought from Drumgold. His barrister, Mark Tedeschi KC declined to comment.

The findings of the inquiry were handed to the ACT government on Monday, and are not expected to be formally released until the end of the month, when the territory’s parliament next sits.

Read the full story here.


‘I do have concerns’, NSW premier says after sacking minister

By Olivia Ireland

NSW Premier Chris Minns has concerns former cabinet minister Tim Crakanthorp acted in his public capacity for private interests after being sacked for failing to disclose private holdings across the Hunter region, but stopped short of giving more detail on what prompted the dismissal.

Speaking at the Royal North Shore Hospital today, Minns said the sacking of the former NSW Skills, TAFE and Tertiary Education minister on Wednesday was now with the corruption watchdog, and he would not go into detail on the initial information that triggered the decision.

“I’m not going to go into that if I have to provide all that information to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, I’ve got responsibilities to ensure that they’ve got the information in their hands, and they can conduct a full investigation,” Minns said.

NSW Premier Chris Minns speaks about the decision to sack Tim Crakanthorp.Credit: Dion Georgopoulos

Significant commercial property assets in the Hunter region are held by members of Crakanthorp’s family including his wife Laura and his father-in-law Joe Manitta.

“Obviously like any town in NSW, … there is the potential for development within those places, if you look at any regional centre from Newcastle in particular, that’s the case. Now if there is or there has been a concern about [Crakanthorp] acting in his public capacity, or potential private interests that needs to be investigated,” Minns said.

“I do have concerns about that, I’m being honest about it and that’s why we refer to the ICAC, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to speculate on those conditions or those circumstances. I need the corruption watchdog to do that job.”

NSW Treasurer Daniel Mookhey also spoke earlier on Sydney’s 2GB radio station with Ben Fordham, saying Crakanthorp’s failure to disclose private holdings is now in the hands of ICAC.

“It’s not great news for the government, no one wanted to find ourselves in this position but clearly the premier is quite insistent there are standards every minister has to follow, and it’s obvious now that the premier will be enforcing them,” he said.

Mookhey would not specify what triggered Minns to refer Crakanthorp to ICAC but indicated the premier’s office received information earlier this week which led to the cabinet minister’s sacking.

“Obviously, the premier has made clear that some information that he received certainly triggered his and the government’s obligation to make a referral to the ICAC,” Mookhey said.


Australia’s biggest companies back Voice to parliament

Earlier Indigenous Australians Assistant Minister Malarndirri McCarthy said opponents of the Voice were trying to distract from its key purpose.

“It’s actually about First Nations people across the country who actually don’t have a voice and would like to be able to influence policy that impacts their lives,” she told Nine’s Today on Thursday.

“We have to stay focused on that.”

A vote proposing constitutional recognition of Indigenous people and enshrining a Voice to parliament will be held between October and December this year.

Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians Malarndirri McCarthy.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Her comments come as Australia’s peak business body will back the Indigenous voice, declaring its support for the “empowerment” of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Business Council of Australia announced its position today and data showing its member companies spent more than $1 billion on Indigenous-owned businesses each year.

“We believe the voice is the right mechanism to give Indigenous Australians a stronger say on legislation, policy and programs that directly impact their communities and their lives,” Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.

“We know we get better results when we listen.”

The council – whose members include BHP, Commonwealth Bank, Qantas and Woodside – joins a string of community, religious and sporting organisations lending support.



Conversation needed on superannuation bequests: assistant treasurer

By Shane Wright

There needs to be a “conversation” about the large proportion of superannuation handed on as bequests while the aged care sector struggles for financial stability, Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones has said.

Jones, whose responsibilities include super, said it was odd that about a third of the value of superannuation was passed on as inheritances rather than used as retirement income.

A taskforce headed by Aged Care Minister Anika Wells is examining issues raised by the royal commission into aged care which is one of the fastest growing costs of the federal budget.

Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones.Credit: Natalie Boog

The royal commission raised the prospect of a levy to help pay for aged care services which are expected to lift sharply as the population ages.

Jones, speaking to ABC TV, said there had to be a conversation about the possible use of parts of a person’s super to cover their aged care costs.

“The purpose of superannuation is to provide for retirement income. And of course, those last stages in a person’s life has got to be taken into account in this,” he said.

“It strikes me as odd in a system which is about retirement income that a third of the cheques written by superannuation fund, by value, are bequests.”

Jones said there would always be bequests out of super, but that was not the purpose of the system.

“It’s not the purpose of superannuation to have a tax preferred, estate planning mechanism. It’s for providing for people in their retirement,” he said.

“We’ve got a crisis of funding in aged care, at the same time we have one third of the value of funds being written out in requests. That doesn’t square.”


Deputy Liberal leader probed about why Dutton isn’t attending Garma

By Caroline Schelle

Circling back to Deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley, who was asked why the opposition leader wasn’t attending the Garma Festival this weekend.

The prime minister urged Peter Dutton to attend the high-profile Garma Indigenous festival during an interview on ABC radio yesterday.

“That’s a matter for him. We all have competing priorities,” Ley told RN Breakfast when questioned about the issue this morning.

Deputy Leader of the Opposition Sussan Ley during question time at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

She said many MPs attended Garma over several years, and said it wasn’t about a single festival.

“It’s about Indigenous lives every day. It’s about communities everywhere across Australia. It’s about the communities in my electorate,” Ley said.

But host Hamish Macdonald pushed the deputy Liberal leader about why Dutton wasn’t attending the festival.

“What is more important for Peter Dutton this weekend,” he asked.

Ley told the host he would have to ask the opposition leader about why he wasn’t attending.

“I’m not going … because I have competing priorities in my electorate that have been in my calendar for a long time.

“I’m not going to suggest that because a member of parliament does not attend Garma they are not committed to reconciliation. That is a totally unreasonable proposition.”


NSW minister sacked for ‘conflict of interest over family holdings’

By Max Maddison, Michael McGowan and Carrie Fellner

In case you missed it, NSW Skills, TAFE and Tertiary Education Minister Tim Crakanthorp was sacked yesterday and referred to the corruption watchdog for a significant breach of the ministerial code.

This was because he failed to disclose “substantial” private family holdings.

NSW Premier Chris Minns speaks during a snap press conference yesterday. Credit: Dion Georgopoulos

In a media conference yesterday afternoon, Premier Chris Minns asked Crakanthorp for his resignation after he became aware earlier in the day that the Newcastle MP and Minister for the Hunter had breached the ministerial code.

“As a result of that conversation, I’ve asked him to resign his commission as a minister, and he has agreed to do that,” Minns said.

“I’ve lost confidence in his ability to be a minister in my government.”

Find out more about what happened here.


Watch: NSW Premier Chris Minns speaks in Sydney

NSW Premier Chris Minns and Health Minister Ryan Park are holding a press conference the day after cabinet minister Tim Crakanthorp was sacked for failing to disclose private holdings.

Watch below:


Ley lashes PM over lack of explanation about treaty

By Caroline Schelle

Deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley has criticised the prime minister about the lack of explanation around a potential treaty with Indigenous Australians.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese refused to spell out the government’s position on treaty and leading Voice campaigners say it would take decades to finalise.

Ley was asked on RN Breakfast why it was such a big issue to discuss a potential treaty in Australia.

“Because we haven’t had the explanation about what the treaty is,” she said.

Deputy Leader of the Opposition Sussan Ley.Credit: Rhett Wyman

“I’m sure in all those countries that you mentioned, the members of parliament, the leaders of those countries were actually able to explain to the people what it meant,” she said when asked about other countries’ responses.

She said Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney was “not up to the task” of explaining it to the public.

“We need good, sensible, reasonable explanations that actually explain what this means and how much it will cost.”

She also hit out at the prime minister for signing up to the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full, and for “backing away from that”.

“If he signed us up to the Uluru statement in full to be delivered in this term of Parliament, which is on the Labour Party platform, and he has spoken about himself, he’s now backing away from that. He’s avoiding questions on that. He’s not actually confronting the issue.”

This masthead reported a Labor government would pursue a treaty with Indigenous Australians under draft changes to the party’s election platform.


PRRT change is ‘sensible’, debate on tax will always exist: Husic

By Caroline Schelle

Australia’s industry and science minister has labelled proposed changes to the petroleum resource rent tax as a “sensible course” that’s been taken.

Ed Husic was asked on ABC radio about the debate around the tax, with the Greens and crossbench senators calling for it to be doubled.

Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic believes the PPRT changes are sensible. Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

“This is as the treasurer has indicated, the sensible course that’s been taken, it’ll generate significant amount of revenue,” Husic said on RN Breakfast.

He said industry found it was a fair deal, and would provide certainty to the sector.

“There are always people out in the broader public that will take different views about what type of tax level should be brought in, whether it’s too high or too low, that is always an active debate when it comes to debate,” Husic said.

“We believe this is the right balance.”

In the May budget, Treasurer Jim Chalmers revealed plans to raise $2.4 billion over four years through changes to the petroleum resource rent tax (PRRT) after years of investigation by Treasury and the Morrison government.


Husic keen for Australia to build EV batteries

By Caroline Schelle

Turning now to Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic who is speaking about electric vehicles and manufacturing batteries for the cars.

It comes after the minister visited Indonesia, and he told RN Breakfast this morning he was keen to start building the batteries in Australia.

Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic.Credit: Rhett Wyman

“We are looking at what we can do, what it will take to stand up cell manufacture in Australia because … we’re thoroughly dependant largely on one country, that’s China to get a lot of this material,” Husic said this morning.

He said he wanted Australia to have “higher ambition” for minerals including lithium, which are used in components for electric vehicles.

The minister said Australia also wanted to continue to work with Indonesia to get “involved in different levels of the battery-volume chain”.

It comes as more electric vehicles were sold across Australia in the past six months, than in the whole of last year.

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