February 2, 2024

Australia news LIVE: Coalition mulls Labor’s stage 3 tax cut changes; Dutton to pledge $900m project for Dunkley byelection

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Dutton says Wong should be sacked if decision to pause UNRWA funding is reversed

By Olivia Ireland

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has called on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to sack Foreign Minister Penny Wong if she decides to reverse the government’s decision to pause $6 million of funding to the United Nations agency for Palestinains in Gaza, after allegations 12 of its staff may have been involved in the October 7 terrorist attacks.

Last week, countries including Australia, the United States, Canada, Britain, Finland and Italy temporarily halted funding to UNRWA as it investigates staff being involved in the Hamas attacks on southern Israel.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton and Foreign Minister Penny Wong.Credit: Nine

On Thursday, Wong indicated UNRWA is one of the only aid organisations to Gaza and the Australian government was serious about trying to ensure fewer children are starving.

Dutton slammed Wong’s position, saying if she decides to reinstate the aid funding she should no longer be foreign minister.

“If the foreign minister is directing Australian taxpayers’ money to an organisation known to be a front – or affiliated or associated with – a terrorist organisation, her job is completely untenable,” he said.

“If the prime minister had the strength of leadership, he would stand up and say that the Australian taxpayer money is not going to a terrorist organisation.

If Penny Wong is now advocating, knowing that this money is going to an organisation not fit for purpose, if that is her argument, then the prime minister should sack her.”


Dutton declines to comment on NSW Police finding of pro-Palestine protest audio

By Olivia Ireland

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton is asked about NSW Police finding that audio from the pro-Palestine Opera House protest in October had no evidence a grossly offensive antisemitic phrase was used.

Videos circulating after the protest purported to show a small group chanting “gas the Jews”, but after an expert in biometric science for analysis reviewed them, they found the phrase actually chanted was “where’s the Jews”.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators at the Sydney Opera House on October 9.Credit: Louie Douvis

Dutton did not comment directly on the findings, instead describing the night as a moment of national shame that should not have taken place in the first place.

“I think the accounts from that night speak for itself. It was a moment of national shame, it shouldn’t have been allowed to take place and the fact is that many people in the Jewish community across Australia, including here in Melbourne, are feeling very scared at the moment,” he said.

“I wish the prime minister had the strength of leadership and character to stand up to support the people of the Jewish community in our country, but he’s not, and I think many of them are completely and utterly bewildered by the fact that he’s trying to walk both sides of the street on that very important issue.”


Dutton says PM’s stage 3 tax package doesn’t account for bracket creep

By Olivia Ireland

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s reformed stage 3 tax package fails to address the “silent killer” of bracket creep, says Dutton, accusing the government of treating members of the Dunkley electorate with contempt.

Continuing his press conference, Dutton said bracket creep will cause strain on Australian families.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

“You go up through the brackets, and it’s you know, it’s a silent killer bracket creep because it just means more and more money has been taken out of your pocket,” he said.

“The government’s not reformed that. What they’ve done is put in place a political response to their problem in Dunkley and I don’t think the people of Dunkley are silly by any stretch of the imagination.

“The prime minister is treating them with contempt at the moment and we’ll have a lot to say in regard to this.”


Dutton urges state Labor to revisit rail project; Press conference almost turns tragic

By Olivia Ireland and Bianca Hall

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said any upgrade to the rail network beyond Frankston would be a 50-50 split with the Victorian Labor government, but said Jacinda Allan’s government “doesn’t see this as a priority”.

“I don’t think Jacinta Allan’s position is tenable because the local residents here need an upgrade. Having old diesel trains running on a single line in this day and age is just not right,” Dutton said.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

“I believe that they will revisit this decision, and the prime minister described this project as game-changing, and he was right.”

Dutton’s press conference almost turned to tragedy when, as he spoke beside the train line leading to Leawarra station in Frankston, a man unsteady on his feet walked along the track while a train approached, and unsuccessfully tried to climb up the side of the platform.

Dutton, facing the other way, was unaware of the tense situation unfolding behind him.

The train stopped metres from the station and one of Dutton’s security detail helped the man onto the platform.

The federal government scrapped funding for a planned Frankston to Baxter rail update last year, putting the project on the backburner.

Infrastructure Minister Catherine King decided not to proceed as she looked for cost savings in the burgeoning rail and road pipeline, saying the Coalition’s previously budgeted $225 million was nowhere near enough to fund a project Labor said would cost $1.5 billion. The funding was not set to kick in until next decade.


Dutton says Coalition will look at stage 3 tax plan detail before decision

By Olivia Ireland

The Labor government has a spending and tax problem, says Dutton, who reiterates his party will look at all the detail of the Prime Minister’s reformed tax package before committing to a position.

Speaking from Dunkley, Dutton said taxes would always be lower under a Liberal-National government compared to the Labor government which he accused of overspending.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

“A Labor government always has a spending problem, which means they always have a taxing problem,” he said.

“[Albanese] went to two elections and voted for the stage 3 tax cuts, he broke that promise. So how could you believe anything he says.

“The tax cuts he is promising at the moment are due to come in on the first of July, families are doing it tough right now, because of the decisions that Mr Albanese has made.”


Watch: Treasurer Jim Chalmers speaks

Treasurer Jim Chalmers spoke in Queensland this morning.

Watch below:


Dutton unveils $900m pledge in Melbourne for crucial byelection

By Olivia Ireland

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton is in the Dunkley electorate this morning with Liberal candidate and Frankston City Council Mayor Nathan Conroy announcing a $900 million pledge towards extending a local rail line, should the Coalition win power at the next election.

Conroy described the announcement as a “game changer” for the community to get the infrastructure it needs and deserves, particularly for booming suburbs to the south of the electorate.


“This announcement is a game changer for our electorate, it means that we’re investing more money into our electorate rather than making the cuts that the Albanese government has made,” Conroy said.

This masthead first reported last night that Dutton would make the pledge to win the pivotal Dunkley byelection, as Labor seeks to drag the opposition candidate by tying him to an unpopular local council.

The electrification of the Frankston-Baxter line, along which a diesel V/line regional service currently runs, would include new stations at Langwarrin and Frankston East, both of which sit within Dunkley.

“This is a community that deserves support and we’re here to make a very significant announcement,” he said.

“It’s clear that there is a big choice between the two parties … there are so many local families who are doing it hard at the moment because of the decisions made by Anthony Albanese. The prime minister decided to take $300 million worth of infrastructure out of this local community.”


Watch: Opposition Leader Peter Dutton speaks

Leader of the Opposition Peter Dutton is in Frankston ahead of the Dunkley byelection in Victoria. He was due to speak from 10am.

Watch his press conference below:


Eating disorders prompt Australian curriculum overhaul

By Henrietta Cook

Teachers have been warned against asking students to calculate their body mass index (BMI) and using the words “good” and “bad” to describe food under a curriculum overhaul to prevent eating disorders.

Hundreds of references to BMI, weight, calories, diet and the word “healthier” have also been removed from school resources – and replaced with terms such as “balanced nutrition” – by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).

Kylie Burton has spearheaded a national campaign to improve the way food and wellbeing is taught in schools.Credit: Glenn Hunt

Under the approved changes – which follow a campaign by eating disorder organisations – teachers are also being warned about the unintended harm of asking students to assess their weight and body measurements and record their food intake in diaries.

Read more of the exclusive national health story here.


Premier says Tasmanian parliament ‘unworkable’ as early election looms

By Callum Godde

Briefly to state news, Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff announced today he is attempting to redraw his government’s deal with two Liberal defectors in a bid to avoid an early election.

Lara Alexander and John Tucker plunged the Liberals into minority government in May when they quit the party to sit as independents over concerns about Tasmania’s deal for an AFL stadium and team.

Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Tucker put the Rockliff government on notice last month, warning he would move a no-confidence motion when parliament resumed in March if animal welfare monitoring in abattoirs wasn’t improved.

While remaining steadfast in his government going full term, Rockliff said it was clear the pair were not sticking to their pledge to provide confidence and supply.

“As a result, the parliament is becoming unworkable,” he wrote on Friday.

“Despite the government upholding and delivering on our end of the agreement … Mr Tucker and Mrs Alexander are not honouring the intent of the agreement.

“Instead, they have continued to shift the goalposts and threatened to withdraw confidence and supply unless they get their own way.”


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