Labor not ruling out raising income-free area for jobseeker – as it happened | Australian politics

Key events

The day that was, Wednesday 2 August

We will wrap up the live blog here for the night on another busy day in parliament.

Here’s what made the news:

  • Labor is not ruling out raising the amount people can earn before it affects their jobseeker payments.

  • This was something voted down in the Senate, proposed by the opposition instead of the $56 per fortnight increase in payments, which passed the parliament today and will come into effect in September.

  • The New South Wales premier, Chris Minns, announced that Tim Crakanthorp, the minister for skills, Tafe and tertiary education and the Hunter, resigned after Minns found he was allegedly in breach of the ministerial code over family land holdings in the Hunter that were not disclosed.

  • The NSW premier has referred the incident to the Independent Commission Against Corruption for possible investigation.

  • A written bomb threat sparked an evacuation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s office in Canberra, but after a sweep no suspicious items were found and staff were able to return in the afternoon.

  • The National Gallery of Australia’s independent investigation into allegations of non-Indigenous interference in the works of First Nations artists working in central Australia has cleared the APY Art Centre Collective of wrongdoing.

  • Woolworths is facing more than 1,000 charges for allegedly failing to pay more than $1m in long service leave to Victorian employees.

  • The NSW government will move to strengthen information sharing between state law enforcement agencies and is calling for an urgent meeting of state government agencies after a Queensland childcare worker was charged with 1,623 child abuse offences.

  • Housing minister Julie Collins reintroduced legislation to set up the $10bn housing Australia future fund this morning, after the first try at passing the bill was held up in the Senate.

Until tomorrow, enjoy your evening.

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

Peter Dutton was briefed five times about sensitive discussions between the United States and Australia over whether war crimes allegations jeopardised military cooperation, Guardian Australia can reveal.

Australian officials also privately raised concerns with the then-defence minister that the issue might be mentioned in the US state department’s annual reports on human rights around the world.

Warning that the issue was likely to become public, the defence department prepared “talking points” to play down the potential friction with Australia’s top security ally.

Four in hospital and man arrested after Melbourne stabbing

Four people have been taken to hospital and a man has been arrested following a reported stabbing in Melbourne’s north-west, AAP reports.

Emergency services was called to the incident near Puckle Street in Moonee Ponds about 1.15pm on Wednesday.

Several members of the public had called triple zero about an agitated man assaulting people on the street.

Paramedics treated two women, believed to be aged in their 50s and 60s, for upper body injuries, while a man in his 80s suffered minor injuries and another man in his 30s was treated for upper body pain.

All four were taken to hospital in stable conditions.

A 36-year-old man armed with a sharp implement was subsequently arrested near the Moonee Ponds railway station.

He was in custody and assisting police with their inquiries, a Victoria police spokesperson said.

The incident is not believed to be terror-related.

Anyone who witnessed the incident is urged to contact police.

Andrews faces pressure to appear at Games cancellation probe

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews is facing pressure to appear before a parliamentary inquiry into the sudden cancellation of the 2026 Commonwealth Games, AAP reports.

In a rare sight for the Victorian upper house, every crossbench member stood with the opposition to set up a multi-party probe into Labor’s shock decision to pull out of hosting the Games.

The government had tried to instead ask the auditor general, Andrew Greaves, to investigate the cancellation, but that push narrowly failed.

Moments before the vote, Greaves wrote to the opposition to confirm he was looking into launching an investigation after an earlier referral.

Opposition leader John Pesutto said the government’s last-minute intervention was a desperate attempt to stop the truth coming out.

At any point in the Commonwealth Games debacle, it could have asked the auditor general to investigate. It didn’t have to wait until today.

The parliamentary inquiry will focus on potential failures in governance, probity and procurement processes in the government’s bid, contract and termination of the Games.

It will also look at the cancellation’s impact on the business community, tourism and major events and what advice the government received from departments, councils, agencies, consultants and contractors.

It will provide interim findings by 30 April 2024 and a final report by April 2025.

The Senate is due to begin debating a Greens motion on freeing Julian Assange at 5.45pm AEST (it was delayed slightly).

Today around 5pm the Senate will be debating our motion on freeing Julian Assange. I’m calling on all sides of Parliament to unite and call for his release and let him come home.

— David Shoebridge (@DavidShoebridge) August 2, 2023

Labor not ruling out raising income-free area for jobseeker

Paul Karp

Paul Karp

As the strengthening the safety net bill went through unamended, Labor voted against a Coalition amendment to raise the income-free area – the amount jobseeker recipients can earn before their payments are reduced.

At a press conference earlier on Wednesday and in comments to Guardian’s Australian Politics podcast, to be released on Saturday, social services minister Amanda Rishworth has not ruled out revisiting the idea down the line.

Rishworth told Guardian Australia:

What the Coalition amendment did was to remove the $40 base increase and replace it with an income-free area increase. What that would’ve meant is [lower payments for the] 77% of people on jobseeker who don’t use the income-free area that’s already there, because they can’t find work, because they’re facing a range of barriers to work…

Amanda Rishworth
Amanda Rishworth: ‘This was an attempt to play politics.’ Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Rishworth said the Coalition made it an “either/or” proposition and that Labor “disagreed with that” in favour of higher payments for all jobseeker recipients.

She said:

This was an attempt to play politics, quite frankly, to make it about you only deserve extra support if you can work on jobseeker, rather than recognising being on jobseeker means you [often] can’t find work at all.

Asked if Labor could revisit the idea, Rishworth said the employment white paper would consider a range of barriers to employment and “social security settings are part of that”.

So Peter Dutton’s big idea in the budget reply was not supported today – but is not necessarily dead.

Catie McLeod

Catie McLeod

NSW opposition leader says Minns ‘must provide answers’

The New South Wales opposition leader, Mark Speakman, has seized on the sacking of Labor MP Tim Crakanthorp to accuse the government of failing to answer questions about other “perceived conflicts of interest”.

Speakman said:

The government has shown a blatant disregard in parliament to questions regarding a number of perceived conflicts of interest of other ministers.

Given today’s revelations and referral to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the premier must now provide answers to questions asked by the opposition regarding perceived conflicts of interest and give confidence to the people of NSW that relevant steps have been taken to manage any perceived conflicts of interest.

NSW opposition leader Mark Speakman
NSW opposition leader Mark Speakman. Photograph: Flavio Brancaleone/AAP

Sarah Basford Canales

Sarah Basford Canales

More staff needed to resolve FOI backlog, watchdog says

The office charged with policing freedom of information requests says it believes at least 17 extra staff over three years could solve its dire workload challenges.

In a recently-answered Senate estimates question on notice, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) said it considered an increase of 16.6 staff to its FOI team sufficient to resolve the backlog, to do its regulatory work in a timely manner and to promote pro- disclosure across government.

The FOI watchdog has previously warned in its briefs to the federal government it is struggling to resolve historical FOI complaints while also receiving an increasing number of requests each year.

The Albanese government’s two most recent budgets did not provide the statutory agency with any extra funding for its FOI work.

A recent OAIC submission to a parliamentary inquiry into the FOI system revealed the backlog had grown to nearly 2,000 over the 2022-23 financial year.

Guardian Australia has asked attorney general Mark Dreyfus whether the proposal has already been considered.

Catie McLeod

Catie McLeod

Crakanthorp says he ‘self-reported’ breach of ministerial conduct

New South Wales Labor MP Tim Crakanthorp has responded after he was sacked from cabinet over a breach of the ministerial code of conduct.

In a statement, the former minister for skills, Tafe and tertiary education and the Hunter said:

I have self-reported a breach of the ministerial code of conduct to premier Chris Minns and resigned as a minister in the NSW government.

I will continue as the member for Newcastle.

I will not be making further comment at this time.

Tim Crakanthorp in the NSW parliament last year
Tim Crakanthorp in the NSW parliament last year. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

Crakanthorp released the statement shortly after the premier announced that he had asked the Newcastle MP to resign as a minister and that he had referred him to the Independent Commission Against Corruption for a potential investigation.

Minns said he received advice today that Crakanthorp had breached the ministerial code by failing to declare “significant private land holdings” owned by his wife and family in the NSW Hunter region.

Tamsin Rose

Tamsin Rose

Minns alleges Crakanthorp failed to declare properties

The NSW premier, Chris Minns, said he became aware earlier in the week that Tim Crakanthorp’s family owned a number of properties in the Hunter and had asked him to explain them.

Advice was then handed to the premier today that the minister had breached the ministerial code by failing to declare those properties and he was sacked after question time.

While he would not detail the properties, Minns said they constituted a “significant breach” in the code related to “significant private land holdings” held by his wife and family.

Chris Minns announcing the sacking of Tim Crakanthorp
Chris Minns announcing the sacking of Tim Crakanthorp. Photograph: Luke Costin/AAP

Minns said:

We were elected not long ago with a promise to restore trust and integrity to public matters and public life.

Breaches of the ministerial code in this manner are a clear breach to that undertaking.

Minns said he had lost confidence in Crackanthorp to be a minister in his government.

He said deputy premier Prue Car would assume responsibility as interim minister for skills, Tafe and tertiary education and training.

Yasmin Catley, the minister for police and counter-terrorism, would assume responsibility as interim minister for the Hunter.

Caitlin Cassidy

Caitlin Cassidy

Universities group says it is ‘strongly committed’ to reducing sexual harm

Universities Australia has released a statement on sexual harm after being grilled during a senate inquiry over the body’s decision to axe a $1.5m communications campaign to prevent sexual violence amongst students.

The funding was issued by the former Coalition government in 2021 for a national communication campaign on sexual consent.

Universities Australia CEO Catriona Jackson told the inquiry it was unlikely the campaign would have the “cut through” required to shift behaviours, denying allegations made in The Saturday Paper that it was cut due to objection amongst some vice-chancellors of explicit content.

On Wednesday afternoon, Jackson and incoming CEO professor David Lloyd issued a statement reiterating Australian universities were “strongly committed” to reducing sexual harm.

Sexual harm is a major societal issue. Universities, along with governments, businesses, schools and individuals, have a responsibility to help stop the scourge – a responsibility we don’t shy away from.

Universities Australia is continuing to work with our members on ways to build and improve on our efforts to date, including around the collection of data, to make university campuses and our communities as safe as they can be.

Jackson and Lloyd said at a July workshop, universities committed to holding a national “Respect at Uni Week” in semester one next year.

The premier Chris Minns has sacked minister for the Hunter Tim Crakanthorp and referred him to the ICAC. He says the minister breached the ministerial code relating to private holdings held by his family. #nswpol

— Tamsin Rose (@tamsinroses) August 2, 2023

Coalition’s treaty focus a ‘scare campaign’, voice campaigner says

Josh Butler

Josh Butler

Yes23 director Dean Parkin says the renewed focus on the treaty element of the Uluru Statement from the Heart is “nothing but a scare campaign”, urging Australians voting in the Indigenous voice referendum to focus on the specific issue at hand.

No campaign supporters and the federal Coalition have this week raised concerns about a treaty, the second element of the 2017 Uluru statement. PM Anthony Albanese this morning noted several state governments were already progressing treaties of their own, but declined to say whether the commonwealth would do the same, noting the Uluru statement didn’t specifically call for federal agreements and asking voters to focus on the voice.

Parkin, campaign director of the yes movement, said the referendum was only about the voice.

The only person talking about treaty right now is Peter Dutton, and it’s nothing but a scare campaign from him.

We want to make it very clear to people that this referendum is about one thing and one thing only, and that is about getting an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice to close the gap and help fix issues facing our communities now.

Dean Parkin gestures while talking
Dean Parkin. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

Parkin noted treaty processes were “decades-long” to establish, and would not be a near-term agenda item.

It’s important to understand that treaty processes, as the leader of the opposition well understands, are decades-long processes and take a long time to finalise.

We’ve got urgent issues facing Indigenous people now that can only be fixed through a voice. That’s what this referendum is about and that’s why we’re encouraging Australians to vote yes.

Minns said he was made aware today that Crakanthorp had breached the ministerial code, and was made aware of the substantial private family land holdings earlier in the week. He requested the full detail of the holdings from Crakanthorp, which resulted in the minister being removed from cabinet.


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