Labor says rent freezes don’t work and we must instead increase supply

The housing minister, Julie Collins, was on ABC News Breakfast speaking on the housing fund and she responded to the rent freeze question:

Everyone knows the commonwealth doesn’t have the power to cap rents. There’s eight different states and territories across the country all doing different things. Some of them have ruled it out.

We have data and evidence it doesn’t work and it puts downward pressure on supply. What we need to do is add to supply. That’s what we’re doing, not just with our housing Australia future fund and our other investments. We have homes under construction today because we made that money available.

In my own home state of Tasmania, people are moving into new premises within weeks because of a decision we made since we have come to government.

And of course, the $1.7bn this financial year from 1 July that’s going to states and territories to invest in more affordable housing. The national housing accord, another $350m from 1 July 2024 for another 10,000 affordable rental homes that will be matched by states and territories. And of course, this comes on top of the budget measures that we have announced in this year’s budget, which is more tax changes and concessions for build to rent, which the sector indicate will be between 150,000 and 250,000 additional rentals because of that decision and our additional funding for the housing investment finance corporation.

Key events

How does Anthony Albanese think his productivity reform agenda is going with the states?

Softly softly.

One of the things that I think the National Cabinet can do is, part of the problem we have in this country is the gap that’s there between the rhetoric, if you like, of some of the media.

But consistent with Ceda’s position of we need productivity reform, we need change, we need to drive that dynamic through. And anytime it suggested, any reform you get shock, horror, these are the impacts, don’t do anything, you get that contradiction there. So, reform is hard, we know that that’s the case.

I think the National Cabinet can provide a ballast, if you like, for state and territory governments working with the Commonwealth to drive that common agenda through and to get things done that would be more difficult if it was just a single unit of government.

So, it can work together against the pushback that occurs in any reform.

Coalition finish party room briefing

The Coalition have also finished their party room meeting, so the briefing on that will happen very soon.

Peter Dutton will also be addressing the Ceda conference – that will happen around midday, so you’ll hear a few of the same messages.

Committee established to investigate use of ADF in disaster response

A defence subcommittee has been set up to hear about the impact of using the Australia Defence Force to respond to Australia’s never-ending natural disasters.

Labor MP Julian Hill says it is time to take a look at what effect that is having on the ADF:

The subcommittee will hear how this seemingly near persistent requirement is impacting the organisation from a preparation, training, and capability perspective, as well as reviewing current policy and approaches to resourcing.

Leading experts and senior Defence representatives will publicly share their views on this important matter which will also provide useful context as respective authors consider the 2024 national defence strategy.

That committee is meeting today.

Greens party room briefing wraps up

The Greens have finished their party room briefing – from what I hear, it was dominated by the housing fund, but we will hear exactly what went on soon.

Prime minister identifies current opportunities for Australia as a nation

So what are those opportunities?

Anthony Albanese says they are:

  • The opportunity to be a renewable energy superpower – and to use that to drive becoming a manufacturing powerhouse.

  • To lead the world in the standard of care and support that we offer our citizens.

  • To drive a new wave of productivity in our big firms and our small businesses and our start-ups.

Australia has the resources, the people, the get-up-and-go to seize this moment. Our government is determined to make sure that we do just that.

We are a government with a sense of purpose. Grasping these opportunities and sharing them is at the very heart of that purpose.

In our first year, I believe that we’ve laid a very strong foundation. That was the theme of our budget.

In the year ahead, we’ll continue to build the better future that the Australian people voted for.

PM: Labor always understood ‘the world would present us with challenges’

Because in terms of “the state of the nation”, things are not great. Anthony Albanese didn’t exactly channel Gerald Ford’s “the State of the Union is not good” line, but he did point to the challenges:

When my colleagues and I were campaigning during the election just over a year ago, we knew that Australia was facing a period of economic uncertainty.

We knew there was a shocking legacy of waste and neglect that we would have to deal with. And we knew that events beyond our borders and outside our control would bring significant and complex and unpredictable challenges.

But we sought the privilege and the opportunity of government to take up these challenges, to take them on. To look after Australians doing it tough, to help people under pressure here and now – but all while never taking our eye off the future agenda.

That’s why people turn to Labor governments – they trust us to make the right decisions for the present, but importantly as well, to shape the future.

And while my colleagues and I always understood the world would present us with challenges, we also held to the belief that it would offer us great opportunities.

Summary of Anthony Albanese’s speech to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia

The Ceda speech from Anthony Albanese included the usual “rah-rah government” lines:

Australia’s future security and our future prosperity depends on our economy breaking new ground:

– Attracting new sources of international investment.

– Diversifying our future exports.

– Boosting the skills of our workforce.

– Building greater resilience in our supply chains.

– Moving more of our businesses up the international value chain.

– And supporting the full, equal, respectful and overdue participation of women in the economy.

This is the dynamic, competitive and diversified economy that we are already working with business to build – and we’re seeing encouraging results:

– The most jobs created in the first year of any government in Australian history.

– Record levels of participation, including a record number of women in full-time work.

– Wages growing at the fastest rate in a decade – and real wages growth forecast for next year.

We’re proud of this record – but we’re not resting on it.

But it also focussed on the challenges. Not even coming challenges. Because we are in them.

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Essential poll good news for Anthony Albanese

The latest Essential poll comes ahead of Anthony Albanese’s Ceda address. As Paul Karp reports, there is some good news for the prime minister in the numbers:

Labor is now the preferred party to handle the rising cost of living and interest rates after a collapse in the proportion of Australians who believe the Coalition is best on key aspects of the economy.

The result of the latest Guardian Essential poll of 1,123 voters is a warning sign for the Peter Dutton-led opposition, suggesting that voters are not angry at the Albanese government’s handling of the economy, despite the pain of 12 interest rate hikes and inflation.

Hearing on migration issues tomorrow

The head if home affairs, Michael Pezzullo, will face the joint standing committee on migration tomorrow, which will be the first time he has fronted this particular committee.

The committee chair Labor MP Maria Vamvakinou said in its seven meetings so far, the committee has heard plenty about what is wrong with the system as it stands and now it is going to the source for answers to some of its questions:

This hearing will be the perfect opportunity for the committee to get answers on the current operation of the migration system from those directly responsible for administering it. The hearing is particularly timely given the recent completion of the Parkinson Review, the announcement of the government’s proposed migration strategy, and the ongoing multicultural framework review. The committee will be very interested to hear about the outcomes of these initiatives and how the department will implement associated reforms.

Tune in for that one.

Parliament to start at midday after party room meetings

Parliament is going to start at midday today, because of the party room meetings.

Those meetings are going to be a bit messy today because a) it is the last sitting before the break and b) everyone is in a fighting mood.

The Coalition think they are on to a winner with the Katy Gallagher attacks. Labor is outraged over them. Everyone is spitting mad.

And that is before we even get to the referendum legislation debate in the Senate (it will pass) and the housing bill negotiations.

By the end of this sitting, everyone will need a break.

Elias Visontay

Elias Visontay

High Speed Rail Authority established today

High speed rail in Australia has inched slightly closer to reality, with the Albanese government’s High Speed Rail Authority beginning operation from today.

On Tuesday, the transport minister, Catherine King, announced that the board of the HSRA – which itself was only formed earlier this month – had appointed Andrew Hyles as acting CEO as the board begins its formal search for its inaugural CEO.

In a statement, King noted the commonwealth had committed $500m to the Sydney-Newcastle corridor.

High speed rail was a signature policy Anthony Albanese took to the May 2022 election, but significant developments regarding the project – which has been promised to begin with a stretch between Sydney and Newcastle – have been sparse in the more than 12 months since Labor took office.

While there are no high speed rail lines that have been built in Australia, there have been several agencies dedicated to the transport mode. The formation of the HSRA on Tuesday means the abolishment of the National Faster Rail Agency, a body established by the Morrison government in 2019, which did not deliver on earlier high speed rail projects.

PM on Gallagher attacks: ‘we won’t be distracted by these sort of campaigns’

In a harbinger of how uncomfortable today is going to be, the PM was asked in that same interview about Katy Gallagher. The day in parliament will cover both, often at the same time, and it is going to get messy.

Asked about whether Gallagher had questions to answer, Albanese said:

Oh, this is absurd. Katy Gallagher has been transparent. We’re talking about here an alleged incident, an alleged rape that occurred in 2019, in a Liberal minister’s office, of one Liberal staff member, by another Liberal staff member, and somehow Katy Gallagher is responsible for …

Q: I don’t think it’s that, but the question is being put. At one point it was like, what did you know when? And there’s been two different answers to that.

Albanese:

No, that’s not right. Go and have a look at the footage. Linda Reynolds in that speaks about ‘you knew weeks ago’, and she says that she was told that two weeks ago or weeks ago, she was told that there would be a conspiracy, that Labor was planning this.

And that’s just not true. It’s a bizarre conspiracy theory that suggests that Labor somehow is at the centre of all of this.

And indeed, according to Senator Reynolds herself, in the discussion that took place at that time, on the Monday night, Katy Gallagher said, ‘Yes, I was made aware in broad terms that there was an incident in the days beforehand’.

So this has been known by Senator Reynolds since that time, since 2021, and now in 2023, somehow, this is this concocted issue by what is a desperate Liberal opposition looking for any issue. I mean, one would have thought that just weeks after we handed down a budget, they would be concentrating on the economy and on issues that affect average Australians.

We’ll continue to do our job and we won’t be distracted by these sort of campaigns.

PM on Hunter Valley bus crash: ‘a tragedy beyond belief’

Speaking to ABC Radio Sydney this morning, Anthony Albanese spoke about the Greta bus crash tragedy:

It’s just such a horrific incident to occur. People associate weddings with love and lifelong commitments and celebrations with family and friends. And for it to end in this horrific tragedy, with so many deaths, so many injuries, but of course, the scars will last for such a long, long period of time. It is going to be very difficult for the communities involved, the two sporting teams involved as well. It is just a tragedy beyond belief.

David Pocock welcomes Labor offer on housing fund

The ACT’s independent senator David Pocock has welcomed the government’s shift on the housing fund, saying it has now responded to six of the eight initial joint crossbench requests:

We’re all seeing the effects of the housing crisis in our communities. It’s hurting more and more Australians. We need action.

These most recent changes in response to feedback from stakeholders and the crossbench will ensure this package of bills does more to address that crisis.
The two big areas where the government hasn’t budged are increasing the overall quantum of the fund and providing additional funding for First Nations housing.

However, by agreeing to bring forward the date of the first review there’s an opportunity to reassess the size of the fund and its operations.

While the community wants to see more government investment, the need is growing and action is urgent.

These have been difficult negotiations but ground has been given and I hope there is sufficient support in the Senate to pass the bills this week.

Gallagher and Higgins questions to be centre of today’s parliamentary session

Parliament is going to be very, very messy today as the coalition and Labor go head to head over whether or not Katy Gallagher misled parliament. Gallagher was not a minister when the Senate estimates exchange happened. But that won’t stop the politics as each side accuses the other of politicising the issue.

Simon Birmingham went on Sky News to push the Coalition’s side:

The reality is that it was Anthony Albanese’s Labor team that chose to, through the parliamentary processes, [ask] hundreds and hundreds of questions about these allegations to take them from a legal matter, a criminal matter, a matter to be decided by the courts and put them through the parliament as well.

Now, having done that and done that whilst proclaiming the innocence of their team in terms of any prior knowledge or involvement in the political nature of that attack, frankly, [that] does now warrant scrutiny as to whether or not they did have that prior knowledge or information.

The questions Labor was asking at the time was about what the then prime minister Scott Morrison or his office knew at the time, as well as what the then government did when the allegations had been privately raised.

There is also the very important questions of how Brittany Higgins’ private text messages have been leaked.

Queensland announces further 50,000 free kindergarten places as part of budget day

Happy Queensland budget day, to those who celebrate. The lock up is about to begin, but here is what we know so far (from staff reporters and AAP)

The Queensland government has kicked off budget day by announcing it will make kindergarten free for all the state’s families from next year. Currently 14,000 children receive free kindy, which is a 15-hour-a-week government approved program aimed at the year before children start school.

Under the reforms, which will apply to kindergarten programs at long day care centres as well as community kindergartens, meaning an 50,000 additional children will be able to attend for free.

Annastacia Palaszczuk described it as a $645m investment in the state’s future.

There are currently around 8,000 children who are eligible to attend a kindy but don’t, and it’s time to close that gap.

The government has hinted there will be further cost-of-living relief in the budget, including an expected increase in the existing $175 energy rebate to help people struggling with power bills. Regional Queensland residents last week were hit with the highest electricity increase in the country at 29%.

The cost-of-living measures come as the government is flush with money from higher coal and petroleum royalties, with the budget update six months ago forecasting a $5.2bn surplus for 2022/23.

Shorten: ‘We in the Labor team have a lot of support for Senator Gallagher. Full stop’

Bill Shorten came to the defence of finance minister Katy Gallagher while speaking to the Nine network this morning.

Gallagher is facing scrutiny over whether she may have misled parliament over what she knew about the Brittany Higgins allegations and when. Paul Karp has those questions covered here:

Shorten said:

I’m just going to make a couple of points about Katy. And one of the reasons why she does an awesome job is because she’s got such integrity and respect amongst the whole Labor team. In terms of what Senator Reynolds is complaining about in the parliament, Katy Gallagher was in opposition.

She was asking tough questions of Senator Reynolds on a particular matter. And then Senator Reynolds has decided to say that she was misleading the parliament. Senator Gallagher said she wasn’t. And we in the Labor team have got a lot of support for Senator Gallagher. Full stop.

…without me getting into every detail of every crossed T and dotted I, the point is that Senator Reynolds was saying that Senator Gallagher had weaponised this matter, that she was aware of everything for weeks in advance.

And Senator Gallagher has said she wasn’t, and she was answering Senator Reynold’s question.

The specific thing that Reynolds was putting to [her] – it wasn’t true, according to Senator Gallagher, and she just stood her ground.


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