Australia news live: Queensland scraps controversial land tax proposal; eBay fined for NRL grand final scalping

Queensland land tax scrapped

Eden Gillespie

Eden Gillespie

The Queensland government has scrapped its proposal for land tax increases for interstate landlords.

Under the proposed changes, interstate property holdings would have been taken into account when determining whether an investor meets the threshold for land tax concessions.

The Courier Mail reported that the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, made the decision on Thursday night after speaking to interstate leaders who have heavily opposed the proposal.

It comes after a dogged campaign by the real estate industry that included what experts have described as “baseless” claims that rents would rise in Queensland due to the changes.

Updated at 20.52 EDT

Key events

Reports National Cabinet has agreed to scrap isolation rules

Guardian Australia is waiting to independently confirm this. A post-cabinet media conference is due to be held shortly.

BREAKING: National Cabinet has agreed to scrap isolation rules. Mandate will remain for aged care and hospital workers, but other than that- for all intents and purposes- the pandemic is over. No more stay at home orders for people with Covid. @9NewsAUS

— Chris O’Keefe (@cokeefe9) September 30, 2022

Updated at 21.22 EDT

Tamsin Rose

Tamsin Rose

Matt Kean supports Natasha Maclaren-Jones’ nomination for Pittwater

The New South Wales treasurer, Matt Kean, has thrown his support behind Natasha Maclaren-Jones for preselection in the seat of Pittwater after Rob Stokes announced he would not stand at the upcoming election.

While she had not spoken with him about this before making public her intention to run, he said she would be a “great member for Pittwater’’. Speaking in Haymarket on Friday morning, Kean said:

She’s certainly a strong candidate and I look forward to other strong candidates sticking up their hands to be part of our team.

He said Stokes leaving would be a “huge loss” for the NSW Liberals.

Rob Stokes has been a big champion to see more women coming into parliament and I look forward to Rob Stokes supporting a woman into the seat of Pittwater.

Kean brushed aside suggestions there would be a lack of experience within the Liberal ranks at the upcoming election.

We’ve got a new, young, dynamic Liberal premier, with a new, fresh team setting a bold, new vision for the state.

Updated at 21.21 EDT

Queensland records 77 Covid deaths and 116 people in hospital.

There were 8,061 new cases in the weekly reporting period, and five people are in intensive care.

AFP to speak about Optus breach shortly

The Australian Federal Police are holding a press conference in 15 minutes about the massive Optus data breach.

We’ll bring you more updates shortly.

ACT revokes public health emergency declaration

The ACT’s Public Health Emergency Declaration has been revoked after more than two and a half years.

The ACT government has transitioned the Territory’s Covid-19 public health response to a Covid-19 management declaration and associated directions.

(4/6) Key changes, in effect from today (Friday 30 September), include:
😷 Face masks no longer need to be worn on public and shared transport such as buses, light rail, taxis and ride share. We continue to recommend people wear a mask if it isn’t possible to physically distance.

— ACT Health (@ACTHealth) September 30, 2022

(5/8)🏡 Household contacts no longer need to report their status to ACT Health.
📝 COVID Safety Plans are no longer required for businesses and events. Tools remain available and we recommend businesses keep an up-to-date plan to help manage risk for staff, visitors and customers

— ACT Health (@ACTHealth) September 30, 2022

💉 Vaccine mandates will no longer apply for workers in aged care facilities or disability care settings. Employers will now need to consider whether they wish to implement their own vaccination requirements in their employment policy or work health and safety settings.

— ACT Health (@ACTHealth) September 30, 2022

(7/8) Changes to COVID-19 testing arrangements in the ACT. The Kambah COVID-19 drive through testing centre will permanently close at 4pm today (Friday 30 September) and the operating hours at the ACT’s remaining testing centres will be reduced from tomorrow (Saturday 1 October).

— ACT Health (@ACTHealth) September 30, 2022

Updated at 20.57 EDT

Natasha Maclaren-Jones to nominate for Pittwater

Tamsin Rose

Tamsin Rose

Just an hour after the New South Wales infrastructure minister, Rob Stokes, announced he would not contest the March election, the families and communities minister, Natasha Maclaren-Jones, has announced she would put herself forward for preselection in the seat of Pittwater.

If successful, the move would see her shift from the upper to lower house of state parliament.

She said:

Pittwater has always been very special to me having been a part of this wonderfully diverse community. It is from my love for Pittwater and my commitment to continuing to serve our community that today I announce I will be putting myself.

She thanked Stokes for his longstanding service to the community and wished him well.

In his statement, Stokes said it was time to “give others the opportunity to stand as Liberal candidate for Pittwater” in March:

It’s time to make room for a different perspective and a new voice for Pittwater. We now need a contest to elect a new representative to serve the Pittwater community in the parliament of NSW.

Updated at 20.53 EDT

Queensland land tax scrapped

Eden Gillespie

Eden Gillespie

The Queensland government has scrapped its proposal for land tax increases for interstate landlords.

Under the proposed changes, interstate property holdings would have been taken into account when determining whether an investor meets the threshold for land tax concessions.

The Courier Mail reported that the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, made the decision on Thursday night after speaking to interstate leaders who have heavily opposed the proposal.

It comes after a dogged campaign by the real estate industry that included what experts have described as “baseless” claims that rents would rise in Queensland due to the changes.

Updated at 20.52 EDT

Queensland health minister announces statewide safety and quality improvement program

The Queensland health minister Yvette D’Ath is addressing the media, responding to a report that investigated Mackay Base hospital’s obstetrics and gynaecology department today.

D’Ath said:

Of the 84 determinations, 26 cases fell below the expected standards.

Of the 26 identified the women have been advised of a compensation pathway.

D’Ath said the board at Mackay Base hospital would be given a show cause notice but that the investigation showed stronger clinical governance was needed across the state. She also said the government was launching a statewide safety and quality improvement program.

Updated at 20.52 EDT

eBay fined for NRL Grand Final scalping

E-commerce giant eBay has been slapped with fines for alleged breaches of scalping laws after it listed tickets to Sunday’s sold-out NRL grand final on the platform, AAP reports.

NSW Fair Trading said on Friday it had issued eBay with “multiple penalty infringement notices as a result of NRL grand final tickets appearing on the platform” in contravention of state ticket scalping laws.

The fair trading commissioner, Natasha Mann, said officers from the agency attended eBay’s Sydney offices and issued the penalty notices for grand final tickets being advertised contrary to regulations.

Under state laws, companies found breaching ticket reselling laws can be fined up to $110,000, while individuals can be fined up to $22,000.

Mann said in a statement:

To protect consumers, NSW laws require advertisements for the resale of tickets to specify the original cost of the ticket and a resale price that is no more than 10% above the original cost.

NSW Fair Trading is actively monitoring other platforms where grand final tickets may be resold and will take similar actions where tickets are being sold contrary to NSW laws.

She said the investigation into eBay was ongoing.

Comment has been sought from the agency on how much eBay has been fined and the number of infringements, and eBay has also been contacted for comment.

Sunday’s match between the Parramatta Eels and Penrith Panthers in Sydney is officially sold out after the last public allocation of tickets was snapped up on Tuesday. The crackdown on the tech giant comes after the consumer watchdog publicly warned about the risks of ticket scalping at major events such as grand final.

Mann said:

If you have seen advertisements in breach of the ticket scalping laws, please contact NSW Fair Trading.

Updated at 20.38 EDT

Government committing resources to ensure Safety in Sport hotline able to handle demand

We brought you the news a little earlier about the federal government’s new Safety in Sport division, to be part of Sport Integrity Australia. The minister for sport, Anika Wells, said a key measure will be an expansion of SIA’s existing 1300 number hotline to allow for anonymous reporting of abuse in sport.

If you were left a little confused about the announcement, so were we – is the hotline is newly taking abuse allegations, or is it that it’s new that they’re anonymous?

Guardian Australia clarified with Wells’ office and understands the hotline previously existed in a “low-key way”, with many unaware of its existence. It was established two years ago with the government expecting 60 complaints a year, but instead received 600 each year.

The government is now committing the resources to make sure the hotline is better able to handle the volume of complaints.

Updated at 20.17 EDT

Josh Butler

Josh Butler

Female Antarctic expeditioners forced to ‘go to great lengths to make their menstruation invisible,’ review finds

The Australian Antarctic Division has commissioned an independent review of its HR practises and complaint systems after a damning report found widespread evidence of sexism and sexual harassment at remote science stations, including unwanted physical contact, displays of pornography, and limited provision for women menstruating.

The ABC earlier first broke the story of the report by associate prof Meredith Nash, an AAD senior advisor and University of Tasmania researcher. The report found evidence of gender inequality and inappropriate behaviour at Australian stations in Antarctica, including reports of sexist jokes, inappropriate drinking culture, uninvited physical contact or gestures, unwelcome requests for sex, displays of offensive or pornographic material, and a homophobic culture on stations.

The report made particular note of female expeditioners in the program being forced to “go to great lengths to make their menstruation invisible”, including “attempts to practically conceal menstruation in Antarctica in environments where the infrastructure for them to do so was absent or inadequate.” Reports included women being forced to change menstrual products without privacy or adequate sanitation, including carrying used products in the field with them, improvising menstrual products when no fresh supplies are available, and keeping products in their bodies for longer than recommended due to inadequate toilet stops.

The report recommended widespread action to address gender inequality, including more regular surveys about station culture, diversifying application pools to attract a wider variety of staff, and major reforms to internal culture such as providing free menstrual products, better health training, training around sexual harassment and complaints, and “a major outreach effort to address sexual harassment”.

The secretary of the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, David Fredericks, said in a statement that the report’s findings were unacceptable.

He said the department was already working to implement Nash’s recommendations, including developing action plans, training and policy to improve culture. Fredericks noted that the AAD’s senior executives had been all men just 12 months ago, but that now 50% of station leaders were women.

He noted updates had already been made to recruitment, manuals, and leadership training. The department has also commissioned its own independent review of actions already taken, and what is left to do. That report will be delivered by 12 December.

Updated at 20.08 EDT

Dutton: Australias should be ‘white-hot with anger’ over Optus data breach

Opposition leader Peter Dutton has criticised the government for not introducing new privacy legislation to parliament following the Optus data breach, AAP reports.

Dutton said Australians should be “white-hot with anger” after their sensitive information was stolen by hackers.

The attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, earlier this week said the government is seeking to put legislation to the lower house by the end of this year. But this was slammed as being too slow by the Coalition. Dutton told Nine today:

It should have been in the parliament this week, the government was aware of this problem.

I think 10 million Australians should be white-hot with anger that their information was compromised, and the home affairs minister went missing for three days.

The telco is also being pressured to cover the cost of replacement passports and other documents stolen in the data breach last week.

The opposition has called for the government to unfreeze “critical” cyber security funding, which is being reviewed along with other industry grants given by the former Morrison government. More than $60m in cyber security training grants have been withheld.

The opposition industry spokesperson, Sussan Ley, said delaying funding from the Cyber Security Skills Partnership Innovation Fund was inexcusable.

Labor have already been forced to retract unfounded political attacks on other initiatives which supported some of our most critical sectors to boost sovereign capability – and now his failure to support our cyber security industry has left our country weaker.

The deputy prime minister, Richard Marles, labelled the breach a “wake-up call” for the corporate sector.

Updated at 20.10 EDT

Showers in NSW to ease Monday

Current temperatures across #NSW, with showers possible along the coast today and much of the weekend but expecting showers to ease Monday ☀️ South to southeasterly winds today will make it feel colder than temperatures in the forecast, see:

— Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales (@BOM_NSW) September 29, 2022

Rob Stokes retires from NSW Parliament

Here is the statement from NSW minister for infrastructure, Rob Stokes, who has announced he will retire from politics ahead of next year’s March election.

I’ve had a great go, and now is the time to give others the opportunity to stand as Liberal candidate for Pittwater at the election next year.

I am immensely grateful to the people of Pittwater and the Liberal party for the amazing privilege I have had to serve our community as an elected representative for more than 15 years. I’m now excited to support someone else to have that chance.

It’s time to make room for a different perspective and a new voice for Pittwater. We now need a contest to elect a new representative to serve the Pittwater community in the parliament of New South Wales.

In the meantime, I will use all my energy, experience and enthusiasm to support the Liberals and Nationals team as we fight to return the Perrottet-Toole Government in 2023.

What an honour it has been to serve as part of a government that has fought to transform New South Wales into a freer, fairer and more prosperous society.

Public service is a team effort. I am thankful to my family, friends and everyone I’ve worked with for their support on an amazing journey representing Pittwater in parliament.

Stokes served as the member for Pittwater for 16 years and confirmed he will not nominate for pre-election in his Northern Beaches seat.

Updated at 19.46 EDT

Push to scrap Covid-19 isolation puts public at risk, peak medical body says

We brought you the news a little earlier from AMA President Steve Robson that the true waiting times for elective surgery in the public system are often three or four times longer than what is publicly reported because the wait times for specialist appointments aren’t being accounted for.

Robson was on ABC News Breakfast discussing that new report, and was also asked by the team about the National Cabinet Meeting today, which could consider scrapping Covid-19 isolation periods entirely.

I think people who are pushing for the isolation periods to be cut are not scientifically literate and putting the public at risk and need to understand that.

What would the consequences if National Cabinet did remove that period today?

We’re seeing overseas a huge upswing in the numbers of Covid cases again. It’s coming into holiday season when people will be travelling around the world. We think it’s a period of significant risk and we’re urging caution because we need to protect the health system and we need to protect vulnerable people like those in aged care and people with a disability.

Robson was asked about the argument put forward by NSW premier Dominic Perrottet and others that there is no other mandatory isolation period for other illnesses, where it becomes people’s personal responsibility to stay home if sick.

Why is that not a valid argument?

If you think the flu is Covid, you’re living in fantasy land. Covid is a long-term infectious, we’re already seeing a massive effect of long Covid on the workforce and the community. You don’t have it with long flu or long cold. It’s fantasy.

Josh Butler

Josh Butler

Environment minister shocked by report into culture and harassment at Australia’s science stations in Antarctica

We’re reading through the damning report into culture and harassment at Australia’s science stations in Antarctica, but environment minister Tanya Plibersek – the government member with responsibility over Antarctica – said more change is needed to urgently fix the issues identified.

In a statement, Plibersek said she was “shocked and disappointed” at the report’s findings, stressing the government’s commitment to implementing the Respect At Work improvements in all settings.

Plibersek’s statement is below and we’ll bring you more from that report shortly:

I was recently informed about a report, conducted by Prof Meredith Nash, into culture and behaviour at the Australian Antarctic Division. Professor Nash spoke to staff who have experienced sexual harassment, exclusion and marginalisation, particularly while stationed in Antarctica.

When I was briefed on this for the first time, and when I read people’s stories, I was shocked and I was disappointed. Let me be absolutely clear: there is no place for sexual harassment or inappropriate behaviour in any workplace.

Just this week the government introduced the Respect at Work legislation. This legislation backs in our commitment to safe and respectful workplaces, everywhere. The Australian Antarctic Division is no exception. Our remote stations in Antarctica are no exception.

I take this report incredibly seriously. The treatment outlined in the report was, and is, unacceptable.

The department is working through the recommendations of the report. I know that cultural change has already begun at the Australian Antarctic Division. I want to thank everyone who has been part of this. More change is needed.

The work the division does is critical: for our national interest, for science and the environment, for the future of this planet. It’s far too important to be tainted and diminished by prejudice and harassment.

Updated at 19.32 EDT

Victoria records 59 Covid deaths and 145 people in hospital

There were 9,458 new cases in the weekly reporting period, and nine people are in intensive care.

This week we reported 9,458 new cases, averaging 145 daily hospitalisations and 9 daily ICU admissions.

59 deaths were reported in the past 7 days.

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

— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) September 29, 2022