Surfrider Australia members braved Lake Burley Griffin this morning (and yes, braved is the correct verb) to protest against PEP11 – petroleum exploration permit 11 – a licence for oil and gas exploration in the Sydney basin, being granted.
It is a very big local issue for several Sydney MPs – including Zali Steggall, Dave Sharma and Jason Falinski – with Greens Tasmanian senator, Peter Whish-Wilson also lending his support (Whish-Wilson is not only an environmentalist, he is also a keen surfer, who does a lot of work behind the scenes protecting Australia’s beach breaks, for both ocean health and for the enjoyment of future generations).
The federal government isn’t saying whether its latest foreign interference laws would spell the end of Victoria’s belt and road agreement with China (although it is believed to be one of the reasons the legislation was created in the first place).
Anyways, there is angst:
Mark McGowan will announce Western Australia’s decision on whether or not NSW residents will be able to visit the west without quarantining today. I know there are a lot of people watching for that who have missed seeing loved ones for most of this year, so we will bring it to you as soon as we hear.
South Australia residents are also waiting to hear whether they will be able to enter Queensland. We should hear an announcement on that soon – if not today, then tomorrow. Again, we know a lot of you are counting on that as well, so rest assured we are watching for it.
There is a protest planned for outside communications minister Paul Fletcher’s electorate office at 11am in support of the ABC.
Fletcher wrote to the ABC board with a list of 14 questions over its support for the airing of the Four Corner’s report “Inside the Canberra bubble” – a report the government had attempted to stop going to air. The ABC is funded by taxpayers, through the government, but the government does not control its editorial decisions.
While the government has written to ABC chair Ita Buttrose over the program, it does not appear it has made any complaints to the Australian Communications and Media Authority, which independently adjudicates any broadcast complaints.
Richard Marles spoke to ABC News Breakfast this morning about the foreign interference bill, which he said was “half-baked” – but Labor is still supporting it “reluctantly”.
(“Reluctant” support doesn’t change the votes)
We’ve made it clear that we support the objective of this bill. It stands to reason that our national government should be in charge of our foreign relations and there an appropriateness about ensuring that the agreements that are reached by sub-national bodies, states, universities, local councils that they are consistent with whatever is the national policy in respect of those foreign relations.
Having said that, this bill from the outset was half-baked. It was rushed into the parliament. It is full of flaws. We have been very concerned about it.
We’re supporting it, reluctantly, but we have moved a lot of amendments in relation to and we are asking for the government to sit down with us and talk this through so we can see the reasonable objective that is contained in the bill, realised through good legislation, but what we have got at the moment is something which is really half-baked.
Sally McManus says the Senate must “fix these extreme parts of the bill, the ones which will entrench casual workers and take rights from casual workers” and “if they can’t fix that, they should reject it”.
Sally McManus, the head of the ACTU, is now speaking to ABC radio RN about the government’s proposed IR changes. She says she is “really disappointed” in the bill and that it is “everything the employers wanted”.
It allows employers to put a label on someone and call them a casual even if it’s a permanent job. And what happens then is you lose all your entitlements you lose sick leave and you lose your annual leave.
And yes, certainly after 12 months, your employer’s got to offer you a permanent job but you’ve got no way of enforcing it.
I mean there’s no point having a right to something, if you can’t actually do something about it.
You can’t actually enforce it so it’s, we think, it’s actually it’s going to take [conditions] backwards.
Victoria will begin accepting international flights again from today – a flight from Sri Lanka is about to touch down in Melbourne. All up, there will be about 125 travellers arriving as part of the hotel quarantine program in Victoria today.
There is no longer any private security guards as part of the Victoria program – and any worker has to work exclusively for the Victorian government.
The latest foreign interference laws are also due to pass parliament this week – these ones are the ones looking at agreements with foreign governments that private organisations and state governments have made.
Trade minister and government leader in the Senate, Simon Birmingham, was Fran Kelly’s guest on ABC radio RN this morning, where he again said that Australia was prepared to take China to the World Trade Organisation if the trade dispute wasn’t resolved soon.
That was in regards to barley. Trade disputes have a few steps to work through before the WTO can be called in, and so far only the barley dispute has reached that stage. But WTO rulings can take years, so Australia is still hoping to come to an agreement away from the adjudicator.
Welcome to the final days of the last parliament sitting for 2020. It has been quite the journey to get here, but of course, this year will not be going out quietly.
The industrial relations changes will be introduced this week. As Paul Karp has reported, the bill would bring about quite a few changes:
Then there is also the latest round of national security laws the government is trying to push through.
These ones would allow the the Australian Signals Directorate more powers to spy on Australian citizens.
We have a habit in this county of ending the parliamentary year with a national security bill being pushed through. The Law Council has urged MPs to take their time with this one so improvements can be made – but that doesn’t look like happening. Labor has indicated it will pass it, even if recommendations from the security committee aren’t picked up, which is another familiar story. No one wants to be accused of not taking national security seriously, which is how the nation has ended up with the tranche of laws it already has.
Meanwhile, Australia’s largest states are easing Covid restrictions in time for the “Covid-safe’ Christmas both have been attempting to reach. Victoria will no longer require masks in cafes or offices, while office workers can begin returning to physical offices from 11 January. From Monday, households can have up to 30 visitors in their homes – happy Christmas, Victoria! You deserve all the happiness.
In NSW, restrictions are also easing further, including:
- 1 person per 2 sq metres (with 25 people permitted before the rule applies), except for:
gyms and nightclubs (1 person per 4 sq metres, with a maximum of 50 people allowed in gym classes or on the dancefloor at nightclubs)
- outdoors: 100% seated capacity, and 1 person per 2 sq metre rule for unstructured seating areas
- indoors: 75% seated capacity.
Plus, you can once again dance at weddings (50 people on the dancefloor – but it doesn’t have to be the same 50).
We’ll bring you all the day’s events as they happen. You have Amy Remeikis with you for most of the day, as well as Katharine Murphy, Paul Karp and Daniel Hurst (Mike Bowers is on assignment, but will be popping up during the week.)