Australia news live: Clive Palmer’s mining company tops list of political donors; former NSW treasurer Michael Egan dies – best news


Clive Palmer’s mining company tops list of political donors

Sarah Basford Canales

Clive Palmer’s mining company, Mineralogy, has once again topped the list of political donors, funnelling $7.1m into his one-senator party, the United Australia party, in the year following the federal election.

Annual political returns, released by the Australian Electoral Commission today, show Palmer gave 10 donations to the minor political party over the course of the year totalling $7.1m. The United Australia Party, who has one elected member in the senate, then spent $2.5m during the 2022-23 financial year.

The major parties reported receiving a total of $345m in donations and other receipts – which includes fees to attend the party’s business forums, and public funding from the AEC among other payments.

Clive Palmer during the 2022 Victorian state election
Clive Palmer during the 2022 Victorian state election. His mining company, Mineralogy, has topped the list of political donors for the 2022-23 financial year. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

Labor recorded a major increase in its donations and receipts for 2022-23 over the previous year, receiving a total of almost $220m. Much of the $100m increase on the previous year’s sum is due to its ACT branch reporting it raked in $136.5m – an increase of almost 100 times on its previous years.

Guardian Australia contacted ACT Labor to inquire about the figure and was told it was a typographical error and an amendment to reduce the final figure to $1.3m would be submitted shortly.

Meanwhile, the Liberal party declared it received $112.7m while its junior partner, the Nationals, recieved $13.6m.

The Greens recorded $25.6m for the year, an increase of $3m on the federal election year.

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Key events

The stormy weather is continuing in northern Queensland today, with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting severe thunderstorms, heavy rainfall and damaging wind.

The risk of heavy rainfall and flash flooding may increase tonight between Townsville and Innisfail, the BoM warned.

⛈️ Today’s forecast: severe thunderstorms with heavy rainfall possible in northern #Qld, intense rainfall & damaging wind gusts also a risk in the northwest. Heavy rainfall/flash flooding risk may increase tonight between Townsville & Innisfail. Warnings: https://t.co/vNDnIN917t pic.twitter.com/vnGJTZh65L

— Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland (@BOM_Qld) January 31, 2024

Queensland premier urges Reserve Bank to lower interest rates immediately

Queensland premier Steven Miles has called on the Reserve Bank to “start cutting interest rates now” to take the pressure off households.

In a post to X, the premier said:

Queenslanders shouldn’t have to wait.

And there’s no rule the banks can’t cut their rates first. Many of them lifted their rates before the RBA.

They’re making record profits while Queensland families are struggling. It’s about time they cut their rates to leave families with more money for food.

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Cait Kelly

Cait Kelly

Education costs causing poverty, Senate committee hears

Good Shepherd Australia’s Karen Denham has told a Senate committee on the cost of living crisis that education costs are sending families into poverty.

This is a reflection of cost shifting in public schooling to parents and families.

When I grew up, you went to school and there were class sets. I had free university education, [I was] part of that lucky cohort.

Now all the costs have been shifted to parents which is creating inequality and poverty, unnecessary poverty …

Textbooks cost $100. Each laptop costs you know, $1,000, $2,000 each.

Parents have been put in this position to find resources that could be easily funded by schools in terms of class sets and adopting those costs.

She said there is an uptick in people accessing no-interest loans to pay for school expenses.

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Treasurer Jim Chalmers has expressed his condolences to Michael Egan’s family:

Very sad news. Michael was such wonderful company and a generous and valued source of advice and encouragement. Grateful for the opportunities I had to speak with him from time to time. Thinking of his loved ones.

Egan was the longest-serving treasurer of NSW. Premier Chris Minns announced his passing this morning.

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PM holds the line on tax cuts

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, is speaking to the media from Umina Beach in NSW.

He is asked whether the government is open to negotiating with the Greens on raising jobseeker and including dental in Medicare if they need the support for passing stage-three tax cut changes?

Albanese was asked this question earlier today, and gave a similar response:

We will put this plan forward on its merits.

People in the House of Representatives and the Senate can determine their view as to whether they want to provide increased support to low- and middle-income earners or not.

We will always look at budget measures, but what we will not be doing is trading across different issues. We are focused on this, this stands on its merits.

Anthony Albanese: ‘What we will not be doing is trading across different issues.’ Photograph: Darren England/AAP

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Tributes flow for former NSW treasurer Michael Egan

Tributes are flowing following news that NSW’s longest-serving treasurer, Michael Egan, has died.

The state premier Chris Minns said that “nothing can really put into words the sheer impact [Egan] has had on NSW”.

He wrote in a statement:

While Labor to his bootstraps and not one to ‘altercate in undertones,’ Michael cherished our democratic institutions and always acted to ensure they deserved the public’s trust.

Impatient with theorists and purists, he excelled at producing economic and social reforms through the messy compromise of politics.

He drove changes to make NSW ports, energy, rail and water more competitive, reducing prices for households and businesses, improving living standards and creating jobs.

Entering politics in October 1978, Egan served in the Legislative Assembly for more than five years as member for Cronulla and in the Legislative Council for more than 18 years.

He was the longest-serving treasurer in NSW history – for nearly a decade between 3 April 1995 and 21 January 2005.

Minns said:

Our thoughts are with Michael’s loved ones at this difficult time. Michael will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Former NSW treasurer Michael Egan, pictured here in 2003. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

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Woman’s alleged street stabber arrested by witnesses

Witnesses to a Sydney stabbing that left a woman seriously wounded pounced on the alleged offender and performed a citizen’s arrest, AAP reports.

The woman, 47, was arguing with a 21-year-old man in Randwick yesterday afternoon when he allegedly stabbed her several times in the head and upper body with a paint scraper.

He then took off but was apprehended by members of the public in an adjacent street, police said.

The woman was taken to hospital in a serious but stable condition.

The man was also taken to hospital, under police guard, before being taken to Maroubra police station where he was charged.

He is due to face Waverley local court today on a charge of domestic violence wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

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Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum to close for three years for refurbishment

NSW arts minister John Graham says that the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo will close on 5 February for heritage revitalisation that will take up to three years to complete before the museum reopens.

The Guardian understands the building has significant problems that must be urgently addressed – including a leak in the roof and large cracks in several walls – putting the museum’s collection at risk.

The state government committed $250m for the revitalisation works on 2 September last year. A statement from Graham reads:

To put it bluntly, the current Ultimo building is not up to the standard of a world-class museum that NSW wants it to be. A museum requires temperature control, and a dust- and pest-free environment to ensure the safety of the objects on display and in collection.

The government is taking the action we promised to ensure the future of the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo meets the expectations of its audiences and communities now and for future generations.

Graham said that 100 staff and exhibition workshop facilities will remain in Ultimo while the works are complete. 56 staff will relocate to Castle Hill and 80 staff will go to Parramatta.

The museum is expected to reopen in 2027.

This comes as workers with the Public Services Association are staging a protest today.

NSW arts minister John Graham says the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo is ‘is not up to the standard of a world-class museum that NSW wants it to be’. Photograph: Joel Carrett/EPA

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Australians skipping meals as rising grocery prices bite

Jonathan Barrett

Jonathan Barrett

Australians are buying less fruit and vegetables, and one-third of shoppers are skipping meals due to rising grocery prices, according to a new survey.

The survey of 4771 respondents, conducted by the Greens, comes amid intensifying scrutiny on supermarket pricing policies, with the major chains now subject to government inquiries and a new probe by the competition regulator.

The Greens-led Senate inquiry, designed to investigate the effect of market concentration on food prices and pattern of major chains’ pricing decisions, is due to start holding public hearings early in the year.

A survey has found that Australians are buying less fruit and vegetables due to rising grocery prices. Photograph: Ellen Smith/The Guardian

The survey found that almost half of respondents have made significant adjustments to their household budgets because of increased grocery prices.

In response to higher prices, 56.3% of respondents said they are buying less fruit and vegetables, and 32.8% report skipping meals.

Senator Nick McKim, the Greens’ competition policy spokesperson, said that “behind these figures lie real human stories of distress and hardship”.

People are being forced to compromise on their health and wellbeing while supermarket corporations are raking in billions in profit.

The country’s major grocery retailers have consistently defended their pricing decisions by attributing rising prices to inflationary cost pressures.

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Minister initiates strategy to tackle gendered violence against First Nations people

Social services minister Amanda Rishworth has appointed a steering group to help develop a standalone national plan to address gendered violence against First Nations people.

Speaking to ABC RN earlier this morning, Rishworth said there are a number of areas the government is investing in as part of a long-term plan to tackle gendered violence, which includes prevention, early intervention, acute response and healing and recovery.

She said the need to address gendered violence is “absolutely” more acute among First Nations communities.

Aboriginal women and children are disproportionately impacted by family and domestic violence. They’re more likely to go to hospital, they’re more likely to get most severe injury. But it also needs to be recognised that some of the drivers are quite unique. We need to look at things like discrimination, marginalisation. Some of those key drivers that are not faced by non-Indigenous women are contributing to this and we’ve got to acknowledge that and address it.

Rishworth was also asked if the government plans on investing more money to address the wait times that sexual violence services are facing. She said the government is working with the states and territories on this:

We recently held a roundtable looking at how women that have experienced sexual violence actually get more access to justice as well. So, there’s some structural issues that we need to address and also funding, but it’s something that has been elevated and we are focused on.

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PSA urges NSW government to ‘come clean’ on Powerhouse Museum plans

Members of the Public Service Association will stage a protest today, urging the NSW government to “come clean” and confirm whether it is breaking a key election promise to keep the original Powerhouse Museum.

The PSA said in a statement it has learned the government plans to “quietly” close the Powerhouse Museum this Sunday, despite not releasing any plan to refurbish the site or redeploy staff to other roles.

The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

Powerhouse Museum workers will stop work and rally out the front of the museum today, unless they receive a refurbishment plan and change of management plan outlining their immediate working future by close of business today.

PSA general secretary Stewart Little said:

[Premier] Chris Minns repeatedly promised to save and refurbish the iconic Powerhouse Museum site before the election. Now we see the plan was apparently to close the museum and leave the whole thing a mystery …

There are priceless artefacts at the Powerhouse that can’t be safely transported. If the Powerhouse site is not preserved as a museum they will be permanently lost to the people of New South Wales.

The premier made an election promise just last year to preserve and refurbish the site and we intend to hold him to that.

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Turning to the war in Gaza, Bob Carr argued that western nations need to “insist that Israel recommit to a two-state solution”.

… The way of enforcing it is for the west to simply recognise Palestinian statehood – even a demilitarised Palestinian state on the ‘67 border… I think the fact that Lord Cameron, the British foreign secretary has also reportedly endorsed this, confirms that.

I just gently remind our prime minister, that recognition of Palestine is the policy of his own party adopted at five national ALP conferences beginning, I might say with some pride, with a motion I moved … on the floor of the New South Wales conference in 2014.

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Still speaking on ABC RN, Bob Carr was asked about the role of Aukus in any discussions about Australia leveraging its position to promote peace between the US and China.

Host Patricia Karvelas:

The trilateral security partnership clearly positions Australia closer to the United States. How does Australia play the role that you’re suggesting, and maintain that?


That’s a challenging question. I don’t see it as profound, because I’m just as sceptical about whether Aukus is going to emerge in anything like the form it’s presented.

I would say to a Chinese diplomat, who might raise Aukus with me: Well, you have nuclear submarines?

Speaking about Aukus broadly, Carr labelled it a “very delicate proposition”.

I think the prospect of America deciding the president after the next president, that they can take ships out of their own line of battle, and take boats out of their own line of battle, and give them to Australia is again, a very delicate proposition.

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Bob Carr reiterates need for collaboration between China and US

Yesterday, 50 prominent Australians urged the Albanese government to step up diplomatic efforts to reduce the risk of being dragged into a war between the US and China.

One of the signatories was former NSW premier and foreign minister Bob Carr, who spoke to ABC RN earlier this morning about the issue. He was asked whether China has the “appetite” for this?

Carr responded that you would need to ask both China and the US:

I think Australia’s role in partnership … is to plant the notion of greater collaboration and less adversarial talk in the relationship.

Taiwan being the most challenging diplomatic question here provides a perfect opportunity of diplomatic language, diplomatic positioning being an alternative to a descent into conflict and argument that could give rise to war … I can’t find any Australian who sees a war over Taiwan as being remotely in our interest.

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