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Australia news live update: Anthony Albanese says he will ‘try to keep it real’, three-person race for Nationals leadership


Anne Davies

Anne Davies

Anne Davies on the future of the Liberal party after election loss

Faced with the disastrous loss of its heartland seats in the wealthier suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, a near wholesale rejection in Western Australia and losses in other urban middle ring seats, the Liberal party faces a true crisis of identity.

How does it rebuild?

Does it move to the right and try to reclaim the support lost to One Nation and the UAP?

Does it take a leaf out of the playbook of Donald Trump and lean in to populism, exploiting the grievances of those who feel they have been left behind, while pursuing a “values led” society that will be supported by “a silent majority” supposedly cowed into silence by “woke elites”?

These are some of the possible courses that have been canvassed in the wake of last week’s election.

With so much speculation about which way Peter Dutton will take the Liberal party and questions about the future, Guardian Australia’s Anne Davies took a look at how things may play out.

Gallagher says campaign spending caps a decision for parliament

The final question is about the potential for spending caps on campaign finance after Clime Palmer pumped millions into his election campaign, as did David Pocock.

Gallagher says that while it’s “definitely a question we should look at and explore further” but says “that’s for parliament to decide not individual members”.

It is worth noting that, as Nicki Savva points out in the panel discussion afterwards, much of the money that went to the teal independents also came from grassroots donations.

Workers on minimum wage ‘should not be going backwards’, Gallagher says

On the government’s submission to the Fair Work Commission arguing against any cut to the minimum wage in real terms, Gallagher explains the process now that Anthony Albanese has written to the commission:

Tony Burke would provide that submission to the Fair Work Commission, and in that submission it would be clear that we don’t think those workers on the minimum wage should experience a wage cut.

The prime minister has indicated it wouldn’t have a figure in it, but we would be bringing forward the evidence and the argument that would support the position we took during the election campaign which is that those workers on $20.33 an hour should not be going backwards, as they have been in the last two years, and have been experiencing no real wage growth over the last decade, and we have been clear about that.

Albanese government rules out potential windfall tax on oil and gas profits

Interesting question now asking about a proposal by the British government to apply a windfall tax on oil and gas profits and whether that might be considered in Australia. Gallagher says “we’ve got a different set of circumstances here”.

I think Anthony, in his comments, has been around making sure we are doing what we said we would do in the election campaign which is implementing our re-wiring the nation policy and the powering Australia policy which is designed to make those investment noose the grid that allow extra renewables to come in, to lower, and bring down the cost of power prices on Australian households and drive business investment and meet our emissions reductions target.

It seems Gallagher is working hard to avoid setting up any repeat of the fight over the mining tax. She says “as the prime minister has indicated in the past few days, we won’t be pursuing that same pathway”.

Speers follows up by asking why? Gallagher explains that Albanese, in his capacity as prime minister, has ruled it out before a cabinet meeting.

Fuel excise cut ‘unlikely’ to be extended, Gallagher says

Question now on electricity prices and potential cost of living relief flagged by the prime minister. Gallagher says any decision will have a “cost of living lens applied to it”.

On extending the fuel excise cut:

The fuel excise cut costs around $3bn for a six-month period, so it does have a high cost to the budget. We said before the budget that it was unlikely we would continue that cut beyond the end of September, and I think that remains the case. That’s what we said before the election and that’s what we’ve said afterwards.

Gallagher says ‘we can’t pretend’ budget cuts aren’t coming

Gallagher is asked whether she is “softening us up” for budget cuts and answers she is trying to have an “honest” conversation.

We can’t pretend they are not coming and we can’t pretend that the budget is in good shape and able to absorb this, but we are absolutely 100% focused on delivering the commitments we made to the Australian people.

Gallagher:

The time for due diligence and proper fiscal discipline is here and I’m going to make sure, as the finance minister, that we are doing that from the get-go.

Labor faces ‘a very serious set of economic and budget challenges’, Gallagher says

Finance minister Katy Gallagher speaking now to ABC Insiders host David Speers now. She says Labor faces “a very serious set of economic and budget challenges, and we don’t want to pretend it is anything but that.”

Q: Are you saying that the figures that were produced showing deficits totalling $224bn over the next four years – were they accurate or not?

Well, they are certainly the numbers that the finance department and the treasury signed off on in the election campaign, but I think the point we are making is that there is a range of spending that we are having a look at in the budget and there is also clearly some huge budget pressures coming.

I guess in those areas – health, aged care, the NDIS, defence, national security – where there are all of them growing faster than GDP and going to play significant pressure on the budget going forward.

Gallagher says:

We need to make sure that all the spending that we are doing is delivering a particular outcome, an economic dividend that we can’t have this situation where we’ve got a trillion dollars of debt, not enough to show for it, massive deficits, huge spending pressures coming and the budget weighed down this way.

Albanese says he will ‘try to keep it real’ as PM

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

Finally, Anthony Albanese was asked whether he had had time to reflect on his status as one of the few Labor figures who have led the party out of years of opposition and into government.

The prime minister told Sky News he would never take the responsibility of the role for granted, and would try to “keep it real”:

I haven’t had many moments to reflect, I’ve got to say … it’s been a busy time. But I do understand the great responsibility that I have – I’m humbled by it. It says a lot about our great country that the son of a single mum, who was an invalid pensioner living in council housing can rise to lead the country as prime minister and I’ll never take it for granted. I’ll honour it every day and I’ll do my best. That’s not to say I’ll be perfect, because none of us are, but I’ll try to keep it real on the way through and continue to keep my feet on the ground, because I think that is really important as well.

Albanese said people were willing the new government to succeed:

Australians are generous people and I think that they’ll give us a go. I get the sense out there that they want us to succeed. And I had people who didn’t vote for us as well, who said to me, we really want you to succeed for the sake of the country. So we’ll do our best.

NSW records four Covid deaths

Four people with Covid-19 have died in New South Wales overnight, with the state recording 6,545 new cases on Sunday morning, 1,146 people in hospital, and 33 in ICU.

COVID-19 update – Sunday 29 May 2022

In the 24-hour reporting period to 4pm yesterday:

– 96.4% of people aged 16+ have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
– 94.9% of people aged 16+ have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine pic.twitter.com/5ABBbF1sho

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) May 28, 2022

– 63.6% of people have had three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine*
– 83% of people aged 12-15 have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
– 79.3% of people aged 12-15 have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine
– 49.9% of people aged 5-11 have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) May 28, 2022

– 1,146 hospitalisations
– 33 people in ICU
– 4 lives lost
– 6,545 positive tests: 3,729 RAT & 2,816 PCR

*Includes both immunocompromised people who have received a third dose and all people aged 16+ who have received a booster.

More info: https://t.co/Q2V9OB88qc

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) May 28, 2022

‘The lessons are very clear’ after Kristina Keneally’s loss, PM says

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

Anthony Albanese told Sky News the government remains “committed to delivering what we said we would” – including not scrapping the stage 3 tax cuts. The prime minister, when asked whether the budget and economic circumstances might trigger a rethink, said:

We’re committed to delivering what we said we would. And I’ve said on the stage three cuts that they have been legislated, people are entitled to operate on the basis of that certainty.

But Albanese added that the treasurer, Jim Chalmers, and the finance minister, Katy Gallagher, has started work on an audit conducted by treasury and finance:

This is a budget that’s full of waste and rorts. And we’re going to search for them, find them line by line, and where there are waste that we can act upon, we certainly will do so.

When asked whether there were lessons for Labor to learn from former frontbencher Kristina Keneally’s defeat in the seat of Fowler – and the risk of parachuting in candidates – Albanese said:

Of course there are. You have to learn lessons from an outcome like that. And I think the lessons are very clear that the community sent a message. Kristina Keneally is a big loss to our team. She was a valued friend. She was the deputy senate leader and it is a loss, but you have to accept outcomes in democratic processes, but you also have to learn from them. And we will take note of the lessons which are there.

Newly minted Labor finance minister Katy Gallagher is appearing on ABC Insiders this morning.

We’ll bring you the highlights.

Victoria records 16 Covid-19 deaths

Sixteen people with Covid-19 have died overnight in Victoria. The state recorded 7,372 new cases on Sunday, with 507 people in hospital, 30 in ICU and four on ventilation.

3 doses (16+): 67.4%
2 doses (12+): 94.6%
Doses yesterday: 1,450
Doses total: 6,246,756

Hospital: 507
ICU: 30
Ventilated: 4
Lives lost: 16

New cases: 7,372 (Rapid antigen test cases: 5,260, PCR test cases: 2,112)
PCR tests: 13,190
Active cases (all): 63,428

— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) May 28, 2022

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

PM says government needs to be prepared to broker deal with unions and businesses

Sky News host Kieran Gilbert asked the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, about his plans for an employment summit with unions, business and others, expected to be held by September.

Q: What’s the key to getting a deal or a grand bargain on that front in your mind?

The key is a government that’s prepared to broker it, that looks to bring people together. And I’ve said that business and unions have common interests.

Business can’t succeed without workers and without a collaborative relationship through workers’ representatives through the trade union movement, and if you don’t have successful businesses you haven’t got union members. And we need to recognise that.

The way to increase both profits and wages without putting upward pressure on inflation is of course productivity and so that has really dropped off in recent times.

And I’ve been very heartened by the comments of both the business community and union leaders that they want to look for that win-win circumstance.

For more on this issue, see this story by Paul Karp:

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

Albanese signals ‘very positive’ response to new government’s Pacific policies

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, says the response to the new Australian government’s Pacific policies has been “very positive”. He told Sky News:

We went to the election with a positive plan for the Pacific that involved increased cooperation with regard to defence including a defence training school, increased support for maritime security, increased aid of over half a billion dollars, increased action on climate change, including infrastructure required in the Pacific to deal with the challenge of climate change, but also increased parliamentary visits and exchanges, increased work programmes for both temporary workers but also a permanent migration programme specifically for people of the Pacific. All of this adds up to a reengagement by Australia with the Pacific that is so important.

Albanese said it was “astonishing” that the former government knocked back a submission from the then foreign minister, Marise Payne, supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to ramp up assistance to the Pacific. That is a reference to the election-eve leaks about cabinet’s national security committee’s deliberations. Albanese added:

The fact that was knocked back last year just shows, I think, complacency on behalf of the former government, and that they had dropped the ball.

For more on new minister Penny Wong’s two-day visit to Fiji, see our story:

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

PM says he intends to have a ‘good relationship’ with crossbench

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has been speaking on Sky News.

He has said he intends to have “a good relationship with people across the crossbench” in the new parliament and has warned his colleagues against underestimating incoming opposition leader, Peter Dutton:

I never underestimate my opponents.

On foreign policy, Albanese said:

I’ve been very heartened by the conversations I’ve had with other world leaders.

As he has flagged many times before, he said his next international visit would be to Indonesia.

We’ll have more details from this interview soon.

Australia faces many challenges, and I know that together we can seize the opportunities before us and shape our own future.

I sat down with @Kieran_Gilbert to talk about my government’s priorities before heading to Canberra tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/d4B90n6BFe

— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) May 28, 2022

Good morning

Another live blog, another Sunday where we’ll be taking you through all the day’s events.

On Monday, the Nationals will meet for a leadership spill with Barnaby Joyce being challenged by David Littleproud.

Prime minister Anthony Albanese is kicking off the day speaking to Sky News as Labor inches closer to majority government. The party is just one seat away, with the count coming down to the wire in seats like Macnamara.

Meanwhile Labor’s Kristina Keneally has given an interview on her loss to Peter FitzSimons at The Sydney Morning Herald. More on that to come.

I’m Royce Kurmelovs, taking the blog through the day. With so much going on out there, it’s easy to miss stuff, so if you spot something happening in Australia and think it should be on the blog, you can find me on Twitter at @RoyceRk2 where my DMs are open.

With that, let’s get started …





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