October 1, 2023

Australia news LIVE: Government cracks down on education visa scams; RBA rates headache as house values almost back to peak

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‘No shortage’ of goodwill when it comes to improving Indigenous lives: Hume

By Ashleigh McMillan

Victorian Liberal Senator Jane Hume said the opposition campaign against the Voice to parliament had not relied on misinformation to sway voters, but rather there was “good intentions” on all sides of the referendum.

Hume told host Raf Epstein at ABC Melbourne accusations that the No campaign relied on misinformation and fear was “unfair”.

Liberal senator Jane Hume.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

“Just because you don’t agree with somebody’s opinion, doesn’t mean that it’s misinformation… The Yes campaign I know is struggling now, it’s a shame that it’s got to this,” she said.

“I think that there is no shortage of goodwill and no shortage of good intentions and also money that has gone towards improving the outcomes for Indigenous Australians in this country.

“We want the right outcomes. The question is whether a Voice to parliament that’s enshrined in the Constitution is the way to get there. The really sad thing about this is that recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian in the Constitution was something that we all agreed on.”

Hume said she would prefer to “build” something like the Voice advisory body first, then see it enshrined in the constitution once it was clear that it was functional and the extent of its powers has been decided.

“You don’t test things in our foundational document that has underpinned the most successful, prosperous, multicultural, peaceful, liberal democracy in the world,” she said.


Carroll becomes education minister as new Victorian premier announces cabinet

Victoria’s new leader, Premier Jacinta Allan, has just unveiled her new cabinet in Melbourne.

Changes include the new Deputy Premier Ben Carroll becoming the Education Minister after a stint in the public transport portfolio, and Harriet Shing becoming the Housing Minister.

Tim Pallas, who initially put his hand up to become deputy premier, will retain his treasury portfolio.

We’re expecting the premier to speak to reporters just after 10.50am, you can watch live below.


Medibank challenges privacy commissioner investigation over hacking complaint

By Colin Kruger

Medibank is applying to the Federal Court to stop a representative complaint to the privacy commissioner that could affect compensation for the millions of victims of last year’s cyber-hacking incident.

Medibank said Justice Jonathan Beach, who is dealing with a class action filed by Baker and McKenzie, had directed it to take action against the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner to avoid multiple proceedings taking place at the same time.

Medibank is facing a class action, as well as potential fines from the information commissioner over last year’s cyberattack.Credit: Steven Siewert

Beach made similar directions in relation to the Optus cyberattack, telling the court: “I’m not going to allow duplicative processes to take place in two different locations.”

In October last year, criminals accessed basic account details of 9.7 million current and former Medibank customers as well as the health claims data for about 160,000 Medibank customers, 300,000 customers of its budget arm ahm and 20,000 international customers. It was one of the worst cyberbreaches ever reported.

The representative complaint seeks to use the Privacy Act to get compensation for these victims if an OAIC investigation finds Medibank’s cyberprotection was inadequate. The Federal Court class action is pursuing compensation for victims under common law.

A Medibank spokeswoman said: “That application seeks to resolve the unique problem of multiple overlapping proceedings, being the class action in the Federal Court of Australia and the representative complaint filed with the OAIC, both of which are brought on behalf of consumers.”

Read the full article here.


NSW government sorry after Yes campaigners ‘moved on’ by Sydney rangers

By Michael Koziol

NSW bureaucrats have apologised after rangers ordered Yes campaigners to stop distributing flyers and move on while canvassing support for the Indigenous Voice to parliament in Sydney’s CBD.

Civil liberties advocates raised concerns with Planning Minister Paul Scully after receiving reports that Placemaking NSW – which manages some of Sydney’s major public spaces – told Yes advocates they could not hand out material about the Voice.

The government has apologised after Yes campaigners were moved on for handing out printed material.Credit: Steven Siewert

Scully said he was aware of two incidents – one at Circular Quay and one at Darling Harbour – in which government rangers asked people to stop distributing flyers and campaigning.

“Placemaking NSW advises me that this was a mistake and sincerely apologise,” Scully said. “The NSW government supports the Voice to parliament and I urge people to vote yes on October 14.”

Regulations enforced by Placemaking NSW forbid the distribution or display of printed materials and advertising in those precincts. But the rule is meant to stop people from undertaking commercial activities or raising money, rather than political communication.

Planning Minister Paul Scully says he is aware of one incident at Circular Quay and another at Darling Harbour.Credit: NCA NewsWire/ Adam Yip

Josh Pallas, president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, called for an assurance all rangers, police and other authorised officers will refrain from moving along any referendum campaigners, and urgent changes to the Placemaking NSW regulations to carve out an exemption for activities that constitute political communication.

“It is a fundamental part of our democratic system of government that people can freely associate, distribute material, and communicate with others about changes to the Australian Constitution,” Pallas said.

“We are alarmed by these actions on behalf of the state which are fundamentally undemocratic and a Draconian breach of civil liberties.”


No key battleground state for the Voice, the fight is ‘everywhere’: McCarthy

By Ashleigh McMillan

Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians, Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, has also spoken to Sky News and said there will be a number of undecided Voice voters arriving at the booths over the next two weeks.

McCarthy acknowledged many Australians were focused on cost of living pressures and rate rises, but believed they can also “discern the difference” and importance of the October 14 referendum.

“I do think most Australians will probably be coming to the polling booth and asking questions,” she said, but it really will come down to Australians taking the time out of busy schedules to actually go into the booths, and I certainly hope we’ve given enough information out there.”


As we’ve already mentioned, today is the first day of early voting in Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Because of a public holiday, early polls will open in ACT, New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland tomorrow.

McCarthy, a Yanyuwa woman, said there was no single battleground state for the Voice vote, rather the fight was “everywhere” because referendums are so difficult to win irrespective of the topic.

“Everywhere matters, as far as I’m concerned,” she said.

“This is an incredible time in Australia’s history, to make the change to make the change that I certainly believe will be very good for our country, to give First Nations people a Voice to the parliament.”


NT senator says there is still ‘incredible’ support for the Voice

By Ashleigh McMillan

Senator Malarndirri McCarthy says she remains “quietly confident” that the Yes vote will succeed at the upcoming Voice to parliament referendum.

McCarthy, a Yanyuwa woman from the Northern Territory, told Today that in her recent travels across her state the feedback on the Voice was overwhelmingly positive.

Labor Senator Malarndirri McCarthy.Credit: Rhett Wyman

“Voting began for us… across remote and regional Australia last week,” she said.

“Everywhere I went in north-east Arnhem Land, and we also saw on the Tiwi Islands, there is incredible support for the Voice. People were saying that when they were going to the ballot booths in those places.

“In terms of a yes vote, we still remain very quietly confident that Australians will do what we think is being on the right side of history.”

Early voting begins today in Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and the NT, with the polling booths to open across the rest of Australia tomorrow.


Royal family website ‘targeted in Russian cyberattack’

By India McTaggart

London: The royal family’s official website went down on Sunday morning after being targeted in a cyberattack for which Russian hackers have claimed responsibility.

It is understood the website was down for about an hour and a half, but that no access was gained to the site, systems or content.

King Charles.Credit: Getty

Killnet, a Russian hacker group, took responsibility for the denial of service attack – when sites are disrupted because they are bombarded and overloaded with superfluous traffic.

The pro-Kremlin group has become known for denial of service cyber campaigns against countries supporting Ukraine, particularly NATO nations.

Buckingham Palace insiders suggested it was impossible to know at this stage who was responsible. However, the Killnet leader, known as Killmilk, claimed responsibility for the attack on the social networking site Telegram.



Australia must work harder to include people with disabilities: Shorten

By Ashleigh McMillan

NDIS Minister Bill Shorten says it’s going to take a “major mindset” shift to improve inclusion in Australia after the release of the disability royal commission’s final report last week.

The royal commission called for a major legal overhaul to protect the rights of 4.4 million Australians with disabilities, including a new Australian Disability Rights Act.

NDIS Minister Bill Shorten.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Following 4 1/2 years of hearings, the six commissioners have split over the key question of segregation and whether special schools, group homes and disability enterprises – formerly known as sheltered workshops – should be permanently phased out.

Speaking to ABC’s RN Breakfast, Shorten said he was “upset and shocked” to when told there were 400 avoidable deaths of disabled people each year, and said the government would work to reduce the unnecessary loss of life.


“The individual stories were shocking and the thousands of people who gave evidence were very brave,” he said.

“It’s not really down to people with disability to force themselves to be included. It’s about the rest of us saying: you’re welcome, you’re included… it really does come with a major mindset [shift].”

The report, tabled in parliament on Friday, made 222 recommendations across a swathe of areas including health services, education, employment, criminal justice, guardianship and regulatory regimes for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Shorten said he would make the currently NDIS review public, but it would need to be discussed in national cabinet in late October or mid-November.


Republican House Speaker faces far-right mutiny amid funding battle

By Farrah Tomazin

Washington: Top Republican Kevin McCarthy will face a far-right mutiny to remove him as Speaker of the House of Representatives after he worked with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown that would have left millions of Americans without pay and key services.

Less than a day after Congress was able to temporarily stop the US government from running out of money, one of McCarthy’s fiercest critics, Florida Republican Matt Gaetz, an ally of former president Donald Trump, said he would seek to oust McCarthy from his job later this week.

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy.Credit: AP

The move will be the first time anyone has tested the new “motion to vacate” rule that McCarthy agreed to in January in order to get enough votes to become Speaker, essentially making it easier for rebels in his own party to remove him.

And while the Speaker insisted on Sunday he would have the numbers to survive such a vote – and told Gaetz to “bring it on” – it would nonetheless throw the Congress into disarray and further undermine his already diminished authority within the party.

The escalation of tensions within the Republican Party comes after Congress on Saturday was able to pass a stopgap bill to avoid what would have been the federal government’s fourth partial shutdown in a decade and allow money to continue flowing – at least for now.

Had a shutdown occurred – which looked all but inevitable until the last minute – millions of troops and public servants would have been furloughed or left without pay, travellers could have faced airport chaos across the country and poor families would have struggled to access much-needed services and food assistance.

Read the full article.


Former Morrison minister from the ACT mulls NSW Liberal Senate run

By Paul Sakkal

Former Morrison government minister Zed Seselja is considering a late run for the vacant NSW Liberal Senate position despite living in the ACT.

Senior right-wing NSW Liberals and former prime minister Tony Abbott are encouraging the 46-year-old to put his hand up to replace veteran senator Marise Payne before nominations close on Wednesday.

Zed Seselja, pictured with former foreign minister Marise Payne. Credit: Getty Images

Five Liberal sources, who asked not to be named in order to discuss internal party deliberations, said leaders of the moderate and centre-right factions discussed at the weekend the prospect of supporting Seselja, who is backed by the hard right.

The leading candidate to replace Payne in the November preselection remains former NSW minister Andrew Constance, who is supported by Payne and hails from the same moderate grouping.

But Constance’s elevation would mean the broader right faction held an unprecedented zero out of four Senate spots, so the fractured conservative wing has continued to search for an option to take on Constance after Indigenous leader Nyunggai Warren Mundine pulled out.

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