Australia news live: Ed Husic says government must intervene in gas market; Pocock backs fossil fuels super profits tax

Government must intervene because gas companies are ‘tone deaf’, Ed Husic says

Government must intervene because gas companies ‘tone deaf’, Ed Husic says

Ed Husic says the “reality” is that government does need to implement reforms because of the behaviour of gas companies:

The market the way it stands, the LNG exporters and their associates … they’ve got influence of 90% of the proven and probable reserves in this country.

So, their view is they can keep doing what they’ve been doing.

RN Breakfast host Patricia Karvelas:

What does it demonstrate that after signing the agreement with the government, prices are higher in some cases?


To my mind, it is saying they are not taking this issue seriously. They are not picking up the signals and they’re completely tone deaf to the view that is being expressed publicly.

That’s why we’ve got to a point where we are now forced to consider a wide range of interventions to get a better deal, because these companies are just not doing the right thing.

Husic said he’s “happy to be scratched off [gas companies’] Christmas card list”.

Updated at 20.06 EDT

Key events

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Solomons gun gift more than bullets: Liberals

The federal opposition has backed Australia’s provision of guns to Solomon Islands, saying the support is about more than weapons.

The opposition’s foreign affairs spokesperson, Simon Birmingham, said Australia needed to honour its commitment to the Solomons and help Honiara boost the reliability of its police force.

The federal police donation to the Pacific nation included 60 MK18 rifles and 13 vehicles, along with specialist training for officers.

Birmingham said the $1.3m gift worked towards Australia’s commitment to being Honiara’s security partner of choice.

He said Australia had to ensure it wasn’t only providing weapons – “but that we work closely to ensure the professionalism, the appropriate conduct and the skills and ability to operate as a high-quality police force”.

Birmingham told ABC radio:

And in doing so … it is effective in terms of ensuring security and peace and also effective in terms of its ethics and conduct.

Solomon Islands’ opposition leader, Matthew Wale, has criticised the move, questioning whether the weapons could be used to quash civil unrest.

He warned the donation was being driven by Australian anxieties over the co-operation of Chinese and Solomons police. He said in a statement on social media:

Obviously we do not have external threats so why the introduction of these high-powered guns?

Or are we on the pathway of being militarised again?

Birmingham responded to the comment, saying he welcomed robust democracy in the Solomons but it was Australia’s job to engage with the government of the day.

– from AAP

Updated at 20.21 EDT

Major flooding in Gunnedah

The northern NSW town of Gunnedah is experiencing its seventh major flood in twelve months, the mayor told ABC Radio this morning.

Here is some vision of Gunnedah where flood supplies are being delivered by boat and interstate volunteers are helping out.

A contingent of 21 SES and RFS Qld volunteers has hit the ground running in flooded towns of north-western NSW.
As Gunnedah prepared for another hit, our personnel worked hand in hand to prepare several hundred sandbags.
QFES has 38 people on interstate flood deployment.

— Qld Fire & Emergency (@QldFES) November 2, 2022

Updated at 20.02 EDT

Adeshola Ore

Adeshola Ore

Victorian Coalition promise vouchers for 32,000 Victorians waiting for dental care

The $500 vouchers would be administered by Victoria’s department of health an help to halve the state’s emergency dental waiting list.

Opposition leader Matthew Guy said the vouchers would help Victorians get off the waiting list.

It’s so important we focus on health, whether general health, dental health.

The vouchers would not be means-tested and participants in the scheme would need to apply to access a voucher.

The opposition have also committed to halving the state’s elective surgery waiting list in a single term if elected at this month’s state election.

The opposition also committed to injecting $50m into the state’s dental care system, if elected, to hire more dentists and nurses to help slash the wait list.

Jillaroos kick off Women’s Rugby League World Cup title defence with 74-0 win

Australia’s defence of the Rugby League World Cup is off to an impressive start with co-captain Sam Bremner scoring four tries in a 74-0 thumping of the Cook Islands, AAP reports.

The 31-year-old fullback, who was playing her first Jillaroos Test since 2018 following the birth of her two children, was at her devastating best as the Australians underlined their title credentials in York.

Victorian Coalition promises $500 vouchers for 32,000 Victorians waiting for dental care

The Victorian Coalition are continuing their push on health spending ahead of infrastructure in the lead up to the state’s election.

Victorian state reporter Adeshola Ore is at the announcement of this latest measure which will see Victorians receive $500 vouchers for dental care.

The opposition says there are 64,000 Victorians on the emergency waiting list.

Updated at 19.38 EDT

Peter Hannam

Peter Hannam

Resources minister warns against ‘ad hoc responses’ over gas

The resources minister, Madeleine King, as we mentioned, sought to avoid “taking this audience through the machinations” of gas prices at this mining conference in Sydney.

That was how she put it at a brief press conference at the end of her formal address, anyway.

King was keen to highlight the “very positive side of the resources industry”, since we’ll need “more minerals, not less” if net zero carbon targets are to be achieved,

As for the gas sector, the WA-based minister seemed eager to avoid the whole industry getting blamed for the east coast price and supply issues. (“Crisis” might be the view of gas consumers.)

Instead, King stressed the need to look at the industry as a whole and how to fix “this opaque market where we’re not quite sure of what’s going on”.

King said:

The government is determined to look further into that with the ACCC and come up with sensible solutions, not ad hoc responses that get us deeper into the well.

As for whether the angst of many (including the industry minister, Ed Husic) is getting through to gas producers, King said:

I think they’re pretty aware that they are on the nose.

Updated at 19.37 EDT

Draft National Teacher Workforce Action Plan released

The findings from Monash coincide with the education minister Jason Clare’s release today of a draft National Teacher Workforce Action Plan, which aims to address workforce shortages across the country.

The plan will focus on five areas: “elevating” the teaching profession, improving teacher supply, strengthening teaching degrees, maximising teachers’ time to teach, and a better understanding of future workforce needs.

The $328m blueprint was created through discussions with teachers, principals, unions and the higher education sector.

Measures include a $25m boost to address workloads and a further $10m to raise the status of the profession.

Anyone in the industry is able to provide feedback on the plan until December.

Pasi Sahlberg, a professor of education at Southern Cross University, has written in the Conversation that the new national plan doesn’t adequately address the root causes of teacher shortages, which is unproductive working conditions and noncompetitive pay:

One priority in the proposed new plan is to “maximise” teachers’ time to teach. In fact, Australian teachers already teach for more hours than their peers in other OECD countries.

What would improve teachers’ working conditions is not more time to teach per se, but enough time to plan and work with their colleagues to find more productive ways of teaching.

– with AAP

Updated at 19.25 EDT

Australian teachers face biggest assault risk at work

Australian educators face a higher risk of being attacked at work or suffering mental health conditions than any other profession, and researchers fear the problem could be bigger than first thought.

Monash University academics analysed 1.5m compensation claims from 2009-2015 and found 4.5% of teachers’ cases related to assault, compared to just 2% for non-educators.

Secondary school teachers, specialist educators and aides experienced the highest rate of assault-related injuries and mental health conditions.

Overall however, educators still had a lower rate of claims than other professions and spent less time away from work.

Commonly reported conditions included injuries due to student-inflicted violence, psychological distress and musculoskeletal pain.

The findings were based on claims data, prompting researchers from Monash University School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine to suggest actual rates of violence towards teachers could be even higher.

They suggested educators may be discouraged from submitting workers compensation claims due to workplace culture, attitudes from leadership and utilising school holidays to recuperate.

– from AAP

Updated at 19.16 EDT

Pocock backs taxing fossil fuel companies’ super profits

The independent senator for the ACT, David Pocock, says it’s “time to update” the Petroleum Resources Rent Tax, sharing the latest article from Guardian Australia’s political editor Katharine Murphy about a new survey showing the majority of Australians now also support the measure.

While cost-of-living pressures are soaring, fossil fuel war profits are too.
Australians are missing out on a fair share from the exploitation of our resources.

Time to update the PRRT (Petroleum Resources Rent Tax).

— David Pocock (@DavidPocock) November 2, 2022

Murphy writes:

The latest Climate of the Nation survey of voters – now in its 15th year and managed by the progressive thinktank the Australia Institute – shows 61% of 2,691 respondents would back a windfall tax. The proposal captures majority support across all age, state, gender and voting intention demographics, with the exception of One Nation voters.

Updated at 20.11 EDT

Poll workers could be exempt from tax: AEC

Paul Karp

Paul Karp

The Australian Electoral Commission is giving evidence to the joint standing committee on electoral matters, describing the “great difficulty” getting more than 100,000 poll workers for election day.

The commissioner, Tom Rogers, said difficulties included that it was a “complex area of service delivery” and at the latest election poll workers faced “highly litigious people recording interactions, shouting at staff, [and] fairly bizarre behaviour we haven’t seen previously”.

Rogers revealed the AEC is exploring whether poll workers could get tax-free status for their AEC income “just like the army reserve”, but the initial feedback from Treasury “hasn’t been particularly positive”.

Rogers said there was previously a discrepancy of “a couple hundred thousand” differences in enrolment between the federal and state electoral rolls, which was “very bad”, but the AEC had “worked assiduously to get that down”.

Rogers also explained why the AEC had ruled that Advance Australia did not breach authorisation requirements through automated calls to people in the ACT about the Senate election, after a complaint from David Pocock.

Rogers said that “based on information” from Advance Australia, the call went to its subscriber list and therefore wasn’t a robocall. He blasted media outlets for “sloppy journalism” for reproducing claims Advance Australia made in a media release, and for reporting AEC comments that “if they were robocalls, they would need to be duly authorised” as if the AEC had made an initial determination.

Andrew Johnson, the chief legal officer, said any breach would only be “minor and technical” because Advance Australia had used a single name in introducing the call when a full name is required.

Senators and the AEC also went back and forth on truth in advertising, with Rogers reiterating his view that the commission “opining on opinion puts our neutrality at risk”.

Rogers has suggested a new agency or the Australian Communications and Media Authority should be responsible if truth in political advertising is legislated, but noted Acma wasn’t keen on it either. He joked the agency might take the AEC off its Christmas card list, or be “throwing something at a screen right now” in response to his evidence.

Updated at 19.00 EDT