Australia politics live: Qatar’s invasive body search of women was factor in decision not to grant extra flights, King says – best news

  • September 6, 2023

King says invasive body searches ‘factor’ in decision on Qatar Airways flight rejections

Catherine King said the women being taken off the plane by gunpoint, a story which was broken by Network Seven’s Jennifer Bechwati, was some of the context for her decision:

As I’ve said repeatedly, I made this decision in the national interest, and there is no one factor that I will point to that swayed my decision one way or the other.

In making this decision, I did have the national interest – not commercial interests – at play when I was making that decision.

Certainly, for context … this is the only airline that has something like that … has happened. And so, I can’t say that I wasn’t aware of it. But certainly, it wasn’t the only factor. It was a factor.

Key events

Paul Karp

The Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee has reported back that Matt Canavan’s private senator’s bill to force the ACT government to have an inquiry into the Calvary hospital takeover should not pass.

In June the Greens unexpectedly supported the Coalition’s push to set up an inquiry into the bill, an inquiry about a potential inquiry largely used to embarrass the ACT government.

The independent senator, David Pocock, made some interesting remarks in his additional comments.

He said:

I did not support the establishment of this inquiry and was disappointed the Coalition and the Australian Greens voted together to refer a bill that explicitly seeks to undermine Territory rights to a committee for an inquiry.

While not supporting the inquiry, in the interest of transparency I supported the Inquiry being allowed to hold a public hearing. Legislation committees which consider bills are controlled by the Government, and on principle I do not support the government using its numbers on these committees to block public hearings on matters that they do not agree with.”

Labor MP Patrick Gorman rails against opposition leader

Labor MP Patrick Gorman was sent out to doors this morning (when MPs go through the main parliamentary entrances where journalists are allowed to wait and interview people – as opposed to the other entrances, where interviews are prohibited), so you know he had something to say.

That something was an attempt to put the focus back on Peter Dutton, given the not-so-great week the government has had because of the Qatar Airways decision controversy, questions over transparency related to special purpose flights and the continuing slide for support for the voice in the polls.

Which means Gorman got a little poetic with his language in the hopes of creating a TV grab which will be used (job sort of done I suppose):

Doublespeak Dutton tells us that he believes there should be a second referendum but he won’t vote in the first one. Doublespeak Dutton says he doesn’t think there should be a voice but he’s going to legislate for a voice. Doublespeak Dutton is telling us time and time again, that everything would be fine if he was prime minister, and he would effectively implement more or less the same agenda. The only problem is that he’s not the guy who’s actually leading the country.

And when it comes to Doublespeak Dutton, what we also see is this is someone who’s sat in cabinet for nine years. He tells us that in the nine years that he was sitting in cabinet, he believed in constitutional recognition, and it was high on their agenda. He just never quite got around to doing it.

And then he tells us that, again, he’s so committed to legislating for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. But again, when the report landed into cabinet – and we know from reports from his colleagues that it went to cabinet twice in the time that Peter Dutton was sitting around the table – just they needed that little bit more time, that extra little week to get it done.

Australians are starting to see through Doublespeak Dutton. They know that he’s always saying one thing [and] doing another. Australians deserve so much better than that, and particularly at a time where we now have Australians going to a referendum. They deserve leaders who seek to be upfront with the Australian people, explain what it is that they will actually do and not do this very weird, costly, and quite frankly, disappointing suggestion of a second referendum.

(There were no questions.)

The Queensland government is forging ahead with an independent advisory group which will streamline feedback from victims of crime to the government, AAP reports:

The Palaszczuk government confirmed the establishment of the body on Wednesday, with an interim victims’ commissioner announced last week.

Both form part of a response to growing concerns about youth crime across the state.

Acting Premier Steven Miles believes the advisory group could be up and running by the end of the year.

“If it needs some legislation that might take a bit longer, but we could at least have a group in place and then the legislation can follow if we need to,” Mr Miles told ABC Radio Brisbane.

“This is really about saying that we acknowledge we can do better for victims, and we want to do that as quickly as we can.”

The LNP has been running a very strong campaign on the issue for more than a year and the government has been slow to respond to community concerns. With an election just over a year away, the third term government is now trying to head off the issue bleeding into the coming election campaign.

Because it is threatened species day, there will be more animals than usual in the parliament.

These animals though, are probably ones people actually want to see saved, as opposed to the political type which seem to keep on keeping on.

Tanya Plibersek will host Tasmanian devil joeys, children’s python and south-eastern glossy black cockatoo in one of the parliamentary courtyards, and also demonstrate a feral cat trap.

Greens senator Janet Rice pushes for antipoverty commission

In the Senate, Janet Rice of the Greens has a bill for an antipoverty commission to be established up for debate. It doesn’t look like it has either major party support, which means it won’t go anywhere – and without Labor’s support it would fail in the house, even if it managed to pass the Senate.

Rice wants a clear definition of poverty established to inform government policy, with the commission set up as an independent body “to provide independent and transparent advice to the government about alleviating poverty in Australia”.

It would go further than the economic inclusion committee that was set up to advise on where the jobseeker payment should be at. Rice says:

While the Greens support the concept of and work done by the interim economic inclusion advisory committee, it is abundantly clear that the original committee does not go far enough to tackle poverty in Australia. The current committee doesn’t have people with direct experience of poverty, and nor is there any ability to ensure that the people appointed to the committee are truly independent from vested interests.

Poverty is a political choice. Labor is choosing to keep millions of Australians on income support well below the poverty line. All Centrelink payments must be raised above the poverty line to $88 a day.

If this last year of a Labor government has shown us anything, it’s that they do not take tackling poverty seriously. We need an explicit focus on addressing poverty in the shape of a commission to develop a national poverty line. We need an independent commission that listens to people with direct experiences of poverty and experts who make independent recommendations to the government.

Dutton pushes constitutional recognition despite negative response from Marcia Langton

Professor Marcia Langton was asked during her national press club address yesterday whether she would work with Peter Dutton on his idea for a second referendum – but only on “constitutional recognition” for Indigenous people and not a voice.

She answered “not in the least” and when asked to expand, said:

It is not what we asked for. So, on those grounds, no, I’m not interested, and I know that over 80% of Indigenous Australians would not be interested, and we would communicate that very clearly to the Australian people should he ever be elected.

Peter Dutton responded to that too:

Now, in terms of Marcia Langton and her views, she’s one individual. She’s an activist and a very strong supporter of the Labor party, I accept that. And that’s her right.

She’s going to vote yes, she’s advocating it, she likes the power of the voice.

That’s all an issue for her, but there are many other Australians of Indigenous background, non-Indigenous background, who think that as we do as a party that constitutional recognition is the right thing to do.

The practical things that you could do for communities involve money being spent on the ground, not in bureaucracy. Stop the Atsic-type behaviour that we would see in a voice, but I’m not proposing to go to a second referendum with a voice or any such proposal. I think the prime minister’s splitting the country in two and I think it’s a shameful act, to be honest.

Dutton: PM has questions to answer over relationship with Qantas

Here is what the opposition leader, Peter Dutton, had to say about the questions for Catherine King and the government over its relationship with Qantas on Sky News After Dark last night:

I think they’re conscious of the relationship. I think the prime minister has been happy to walk the red carpet with Alan Joyce at every top-end-of-town event over the course of the last couple of years, but now, given the circumstances around Mr Joyce, it seems that they want to walk away from the relationship.

Obviously, there’s a very close relationship in relation to the campaign on the voice. The prime minister no doubt has encouraged Mr Joyce very carefully in the months leading up to the announcement around the referendum, for Qantas to be actively involved. They are. There’s that aspect as well, which, you know, I think it’s right to ask questions about the nature of that relationship.

So, I just think if the prime minister was upfront and honest, he could clear up these matters, but he had to come back into the parliament yesterday to clarify that he’d misled the parliament and that he had to add additional information because what he said in question time was just blatantly wrong.

Jonathan Barrett

Jonathan Barrett

Asic suing Paypal Australia over ‘unfair’ small business contracts

The corporate regulator is suing PayPal Australia over allegations its contracts with small businesses are unfair.

The legal proceedings are concerned with a contract term that gives business account holders 60 days to notify PayPal of any errors in fees they have been charged, or else accept those charges as accurate, according to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (Asic).

Asic said in a statement the contract term is unfair because it allows PayPal to retain fees it has wrongly charged.

We allege this term is unfair because it allows PayPal to escape the consequences of its own errors in overcharging small businesses, and places additional burdens on small businesses to detect and correct charging errors.

A spokesperson for PayPal Australia said:

We have been working in full cooperation with Asic and take this matter very seriously. It would not be appropriate to comment in detail on proceedings before the court, however we are carefully reviewing the claims.”

Wilkie calls for ‘frank and full’ explanation from government over Qatar Airways decision

Andrew Wilkie was also asked about the mess in question time yesterday, when the opposition moved a motion of dissent in speaker Milton Dick’s ruling that Catherine King was being relevant in her answer to a question about the Qatar airways decision.

(It was all very confusing – essentially the opposition were pulling a stunt for the 6pm news, but it just descended into a complete mess, and resulted in King not having to answer any questions because Labor responded by ending question time ten minutes after it was all sorted. An embarrassment all round, really.)

Wilkie addressed the stunt, but said there are still questions for King to answer:

I certainly wasn’t contributing, in effect I abstained from the vote in the middle of it. It was just a mess and quite embarrassing.

To answer your question, no, we don’t know what went on. I don’t believe we’ve had a frank and full response from the government. That’s what everyone wants to know, because we do need to know why there is a limit on flights in and out of Australia, which would, in fact, bring down the price of air travel, if more flights existed.

Wilkie warns funding gap on Antarctic science may result in breakdown on international treaties

Andrew Wilkie said he was also very concerned over the funding gaps for the Australian Antarctic Division, who have been told to save $25m this year. Researchers are warning that will have a massive impact on the AAD’s ability to carry out its research missions and Wilkie said the danger also extends to other countries (China) filling the gap Australia leaves:

Well, in essence, it will create a vacuum that will be backfilled by other countries.

So far, the international treaties around the Antarctic are holding. You know, countries aren’t exploiting resources there. They are doing research.

But … if we let these treaties break down, then before we know it, the continent will be just another place to be exploited, when it shouldn’t be.

It’s a very fragile place. It shouldn’t be a place for mining and whatnot. It will become militarised. If we’re not careful we will have a security issue to the south.

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