Australia news updates live: Qld floods; bigger quarantine fines in NSW over Omicron; parliament under pressure

LIVE – Updated at 22:13

Follow the day’s news live.

 

22:13

South Australia has opened its booster program to anyone who is eligible – which means anyone who had their second dose of the vaccine at least six months ago.

 

22:12

Rex Patrick is leading the charge to overhaul how freedom of information requests are dealt with by the government.

As Paul Karp reports:

Related: Labor, One Nation and Rex Patrick unite to decry Coalition’s refusal to release national cabinet documents

Victoria reports 1,179 new Covid cases and six deaths, NSW records 251 cases

22:06

Victoria and NSW have reported their daily Covid cases. There have been six deaths in Victoria.

We thank everyone who got vaccinated and tested yesterday.

Our thoughts are with those in hospital, and the families of people who have lost their lives.

More data soon: https://t.co/OCCFTAtS1P#COVID19Vic #COVID19VicData pic.twitter.com/zn924m6FDy

— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) November 30, 2021

NSW COVID-19 update – Wednesday 1 December 2021

In the 24-hour reporting period to 8pm last night:

– 94.6% of people aged 16+ have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

– 92.5% of people aged 16+ have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine pic.twitter.com/WuOZX0KsyK

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) November 30, 2021

 

22:01

That also means you are going to hear a lot during question time about how well the economy is doing, through government dixers (and non answers to opposition questions).

The government really, really, really wants to make economic management one of the issues of the coming election, so prepare yourself for all of the economic talk.

 

22:00

It’s national accounts day (huzzah) which we will bring you as soon as it drops (Peter Hannam will be all over it for you).

Jim Chalmers was on Sky this morning, where he was asked about it:

This is a really important snapshot of the national economy. The national economy is defined by skyrocketing prices and falling real wages, and in the September quarter by the second biggest fall in economic growth since these records were kept. You listen to the prime minister and the treasurer and they always want to talk about international comparisons, well of all the countries that have reported so far, Australia is expected to be absolutely last when it comes to economic growth.

These are the costs and consequences of a Morrison government which got the initial vaccine rollout, quarantine and economic support so badly wrong. At this time last year, they were talking about a big recovery. We’ve heard all of this before.

Instead, they delivered the second biggest downturn in the history of the national accounts. So we can’t be complacent. The Omicron virus strain is something that we need to be very attentive to. Complacency is what stomped on the green shoots of the beginnings of the last recovery and we don’t want to see that again.

‘Significant flooding’ across Queensland town of Inglewood

21:56

Australia news updates live: Qld floods; bigger quarantine fines in NSW over Omicron; parliament under pressure
© Provided by The Guardian Aerial image of the flooded areas of Inglewood, Queensland. Photograph: Jess Rielly/Severe Weather
Australia news updates live: Qld floods; bigger quarantine fines in NSW over Omicron; parliament under pressure
© Provided by The Guardian More than 900 residents of Inglewood were evacuated on Tuesday night. Photograph: Jess Rielly/Severe Weather

Meanwhile, we are thinking of all of those in the Queensland flood zones.

As AAP reports:

A town in Queensland’s south is facing rising floodwaters, forcing the evacuation of more than 900 residents.

An emergency was declared for Inglewood, in the Goondiwindi local government area, in the Darling Downs close to the NSW border on Tuesday night.

Residents were told to head to an assembly point at Inglewood Cemetery ahead of widespread flooding expected on Wednesday.

“Significant flooding is expected to occur across the township in coming hours,” police said.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Assistant Commissioner Stephen Smith said about 950 people had been moved to safety.

“Our crews were working through the night assisting that operation,” he told Nine Network on Wednesday.

Mr Smith noted there had been widespread flooding across central Queensland, the northern parts of the state and through the southeast and southwest.

“Overnight there were areas that got up to 180mm of rain,” he said.

 

21:49

What did Richard Marles think of Anthony Albanese calling Peter Dutton a “boofhead” in parliament yesterday? (Dutton accused Albanese of being “weak” and having a “glass jaw”)

Albanese made the comment just hours after the Kate Jenkins report was handed down, calling for more respect in the parliament.

Marles:

I don’t think that comment is of concern. But I think it is right that we need to be looking at culture across the Parliament, and that includes the way in which we relate to each other. And I come back to the starting point that this is about ultimately trying to make sure that this is the example in the country of providing a safe and respectful workplace for those people who work here and particularly women. And we need to be making sure that coming out of this report, we take this moment to change the culture of Parliament forever.

 

21:48

Scott Morrison was asked about his senator David Van’s interjections in the senate yesterday, and he had this to say:

I expect all parliamentary leaders to be seeking to be uphold those standards have been in the Parliament a long time. Just last week the interjections that I was hearing in the chamber coming across, I mean, these are things that all parliamentary leaders continue to have to uphold the standards of and I expect that of my team and I was very, very disappointed about that.

 

21:42

Richard Marles says Labor is all for the inquiry into social media giants (the prime minister announced that today).

Marles told the ABC:

We think that it’s important to be looking at the question of social media and the role that big tech plays in that. Obviously we absolutely support the thrust of what the government’s trying to do here, which is to stamp out behaviour or trolls on social media and to make that a safer place for the Australian community.

Those who resist an integrity commission ‘raise curiosity’, Liberal senator says

21:40

Still in the senate, Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells spoke during the adjournment debate about the need for a federal integrity commission – that people could trust:

In February this year, I spoke about integrity and conduct. Politics is about perception, and, regrettably, the public perception of our politicians is not good. Repeatedly, politicians from local, state and federal ranks have acted without integrity and contributed to the ongoing and deteriorating perception of the body politic.

In any survey about the most trusted professions in our society, politicians usually rank amongst the lowest, and why wouldn’t this be the case, given the continued exposure of questionable activities over the years? Whether it’s alleged lies in election campaigns, dodgy preselections, misappropriation of public monies, personal benefits resulting from insider information, monies sequestered in overseas tax havens, abuse of office for personal advantage, dodgy land deals or connections with foreign governments, the list goes on and on.

Negative public perceptions are compounded when politicians dig their heels in, spin the story and fail to take responsibility for their actions. They rely on the fast-moving media cycle and wait for the next story to take over the front page, and this frustrates the public even more. Modern democracies and the operation of open government must be accountable and transparent, thereby obviating any suspicion of skulduggery.

In conclusion, those who resist the introduction of an effective federal integrity body raise people’s curiosity. One has to ask the question: are they conflicted? Why are they resisting the implementation of such a body? And when we speak of integrity, I’m once again reminded of the words of Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor and philosopher: ‘If it is not right, do not do it. If it is not true, do not say it.’

 

21:34

Here is what Liberal senator David Van told the senate yesterday (he did a personal explanation later in the afternoon, but didn’t stand up at the time when president Slade Brockman asked if anyone wanted to withdraw their interjection at the time of the incident):

As you asked us to reflect, I reflect on my behaviour in Question Time and I acknowledge that interjections are always disorderly. I acknowledge I was making interjections while Senator Lambie was asking a question during Question Time.

And while I do not accept the characterisation of my interjections in the manner raised in points of order in that time, by other senators, I do regret the interjections and I apologise to Senator Lambie and to the Senate unreservedly. Mr President, I commit to holding myself to the highest standards in the future. Thank you.

 

21:23

If you want to know how some government MPs are treating the government’s own social media law proposal, here’s just one example.

Victorian Liberal Senator David Van has apologised for interjecting while Jacqui Lambie asked questions in the senate yesterday, but has denied he made dog noises. He told journalist Samantha Maiden it may have sounded like an animal noise because he was wearing a mask. His colleague, Hollie Hughes had said on Twitter it didn’t happen at all (before Van’s apology for interjecting) and sarcastically praised Penny Wong’s “bionic hearing”.

Here’s how Van responded to Labor MP Graham Perrett as part of an ongoing thread on the incident

How so curious, Graham? I did not make a ‘noise’ I spoke when making an interjection & I certainly did not make any kind of animal noise at all. Are you alleging otherwise? At least I won’t need our excellent new anti-troll laws to unmask you #justsayin

— Senator David Van (@VanSenate) November 30, 2021

 

21:22

Meanwhile, Labor isn’t confirming anything at this point, but the SMH is reporting the fuel emissions standards policy the opposition took to the last election is gone.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise; Labor has been working up its 2030 emissions policy for a while and part of that has been shedding parts it faces government attack over. With all the talk of “mandates” back (the government has claimed Labor wanted to mandate what vehicles people could drive, which isn’t true) as well as “taxes” (the government has also claimed things like the fuel emissions standard was a tax on family) Labor has been working on minimising as many attacks as possible (which doesn’t always lead to the best way to build policy, but here we are).

As Murph has been reporting, a 2030/35 target from Labor is expected very soon and it will be more ambitious than the Abbott-era policy the government is holding on to. With Labor starting its pseudo campaign this weekend (a campaign rally has already been announced) you can expect that policy announcement sooner rather than later. Once parliament is over, it’s game on for both sides.

 

21:13

Social media crackdowns must be playing well in focus groups: now there is an official inquiry.

From the release:

The Australian Parliament will put big tech under the microscope as it examines toxic material on social media platforms and the dangers this poses to the wellbeing of Australians.

The inquiry, which will be chaired by Robertson MP Lucy Wicks, was announced today by prime minister Scott Morrison and minister for communications, urban infrastructure, cities and the arts Paul Fletcher.

Prime minister Morrison said the inquiry builds on the world-leading legislation the government announced earlier this week to unmask anonymous online trolls.

“Mums and dads are rightly concerned about whether big tech is doing enough to keep their kids safe online,” The prime minister said. “Big tech created these platforms, they have a responsibility to ensure their users are safe.

 

20:58

Scott Morrison wants to make today about his social media bill, which is actually just a defamation bill, containing elements already available in state jurisdictions (social media platforms have always been publishers, for instance).

So you’ll be hearing a lot from the government about protecting young people and women from “anonymous trolls” on social media platforms. The legislation doesn’t do that though. It gives avenues for *some* people to be able to go to court to get an email address associated with an anonymous account. (And let’s not forget that when an actual pile on is on, a lot of it comes from accounts with names and not everyone can afford to sue for reputational damage.)

(Plus, just yesterday, the same day the Kate Jenkins report was handed down, the senate didn’t exactly cover itself in glory when it came to respect.)

Related: The Australian parliament, the whole arse-covering and ego-driven apparatus, should be paralysed by shame and remorse | Katharine Murphy

 

20:47

We’re international news again.

A report on the workplace culture in Australia’s Parliament paints a damning picture of widespread sexual harassment, with employees sharing harrowing stories of an alcohol-fueled environment where powerful men violated boundaries unchecked.https://t.co/KyLELQxPpi

— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 30, 2021

Good morning

20:39

It’s the second last sitting day of the year and the government still has things like the voter ID legislation to get through, so it’s beginning to cut things a little fine.

There won’t be any federal integrity commission legislation from the government. We know that. Scott Morrison is blaming Labor for his government not bringing on the bill (which is currently just an exposure draft) because for some reason, Labor not supporting the government’s proposal is a stumbling block for a government which carries a majority in the house and has brought on countless bills the opposition does not support. But that’s the logic we’re being offered up on this one.

Labor doesn’t support the voter ID laws but at this point, the government is pushing ahead with those. There’s also religious discrimination, which is off to a joint committee, which will meet over the summer holidays in order to report back by early February. Morrison wants that one wrapped up before the election, hence the rush. So we’ll probably at least squeeze in the February sitting before the next election, but again, there’s no guarantees on that.

National cabinet met late yesterday and all the leaders agreed to hold the line on keeping domestic borders open, most likely anticipating a whole of country meltdown if Christmas is cancelled for the third year in a row. That, and no one knows enough about the Omicron Covid variant yet to want to make a decision which could end up looking a bit panicked. So far, there is no information warranting any other action than watch and wait (domestically at least). But there are a few more obligations for returning international travellers; in NSW those who don’t comply with quarantine/isolation rules face a $5000 fine, while Victoria is mulling whether to re-introduce a 14-day quarantine for returned travellers (no change as yet though).

Related: How have Australia’s international travel rules changed in response to Omicron?

Speaking of Victoria, it should pass its pandemic laws today, after securing the votes it needed from the crossbench.

We’ll keep you up to date with all the political news (and a little more, given Covid is still with us) with Mike Bowers, Katharine Murphy, Daniel Hurst, Sarah Martin and Paul Karp at your service. The entire Guardian brains trust is also chipping in, as usual, to make sure you know everything you need to know to stay up to date across the nation. It being a sitting day, Amy Remeikis is on the blog. Will there be enough caffeine? Probably not. But onwards anyway.

Ready?

 

20:36

Turns out those in the Victorian parliament are probably the most sleepy in the country:

Soooo you know how we thought the pandemic legislation would pass overnight? MPs have sat ALL night – and they’re still going! https://t.co/DqZvI4672i

— Sharnelle Vella (@SharnelleVella) November 30, 2021

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