Australia politics live: Monique Ryan tells Coalition ‘put your masks on’ in question time; Greens say RBA interest rate hikes won’t solve inflation

Dr Monique Ryan tells the Coalition to ‘put your masks on’

In her first question to the parliament, the independent MP for Kooyong, Dr Monique Ryan, makes her mark:

Repeated infections with Covid-19 are [thought] to be more severe and carry a high risk of persisting symptoms for as long as six months, as well as an increased risk of hospitalisation and death.

There is increasing risk of cumulative neurological and cardiovascular disease from infections from Covid-19. Covid-19 infections in this country are at a record high and increasing. Can the minister please explain how he proposes to manage the oncoming national significant burden of disability and chronic illness – put your masks on* – from repeated infection …with Covid-19.

*This is directed at the Coalition side of the chamber which is still mostly mask-free. There are jeers in response.

Mark Butler:

I thank the member for Kooyong for her questions and she is actually is one of the large number of health professionals in the Parliament who will add depth to our health policy.

There can be no more important time then now because this pandemic is still ravaging our community. Official numbers record that more than 300,000 Australians each and every week of being infected with Covid and we know from zero sampling and other ways that the likely number is more than twice that.

We think that as many as half of Australia has contracted Covid just over the course of this year so far.

Our focus is on getting through this wave. We have extended support to state hospital system. We have expanded access to fourth-dose vaccines and antiviral treatment.

We are encouraging Australians again to be Covid-safe. In particular, as the member pointed out, to wear masks when indoors [and] are not able to socially distance.

As the member points out [and] the member for Higgins [the Liberal Dr Katie Allen] pointed out in her beautiful speech this morning, we also need to come out to grips with long Covid. Long Covid is not easy to diagnose or treat.

The medical literature already reports more than 200 different symptoms being logged, most commonly involving fatigue, shortness of breath and what people are calling brain fog.

Some symptoms are disappearing after a few months; others experience quite specific … symptoms requiring specific interventions for example from a cardiologist.

More and more Australians are suffering longer term, multi-system disorders that prove hard to diagnose and treat.

The truth is, Mr Speaker, we don’t know [the] scale of the challenge.

A common estimate of about 4% of Covid patients experienc[ing] long-term symptoms already runs to hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Australian. Support is available through our standard medical system. States are operating long Covid clinics.

Their waiting lists are growing. It is increasingly clear to me that we will need to develop a focused response nationally to the phenomenon of long Covid.

I have already started work on the next phase of the government’s pandemic response, particularly beyond this winter and this third Omicron wave. I have already spoken to the Chief Medical Officer to introduce proposal around long Covid in particular.

I am keen to continue discussions with the member for Kooyong and other members of this place [regarding] this profound long-term health challenge that is proving so debilitating [and] distressing for so many Australian.

Updated at 00.55 EDT

Key events

David Littleproud is giving a personal explanation because Labor keeps referring to his tweet about foot and mouth disease, but he says they are not reading the whole tweet.

He is pointing out that under the standing orders, once someone has made a correction, the speaker can step in and stop the misrepresentation on board.

Milton Dick says he will “reflect on his view”

Tony Burke is moving to suspend standing orders to allow the debate of the second reading of Luke Gosling’s Restoring Territory Rights Bill immediately – and then have the debate sent to the Federation chamber for the rest of the day.

This is part of the ‘urgent’ bill standing order the government introduced.

Paul Fletcher says this is a “government determined to ram matters through as quickly as it can” and seems happy to be able to say ‘I told you so’ in parliamentary language.

Question Time ends

And it ends a little earlier than usual, which prompts some surprise from the opposition.

Updated at 01.15 EDT

Albanese: not having nurses in aged care homes will affect emergency departments

Sussan Ley to Anthony Albanese:

When asked about how many nurses would be required in aged care to meet your election commitment your minister said 869 nurses were required. Can the prime minister please confirm that to meet your election commitment in full, only 869 nurses will be required in aged care homes?

Albanese:

I’m quite happy to take a question from the deputy leader of the opposition about aged care. Because we went to the election with a comprehensive plan to fix aged care, putting nurses back into nursing homes 24 hours a day, because we know that’s one of the issues having an impact on emergency departments.

If you don’t have a nurse in a nursing home, when an elderly person gets sick, they can often end up getting an acute health condition because there is not someone onsite to help them. That’s what the royal commission said and what we are responding to and … I [am] finally just beyond comprehension that after nine years of neglect from those opposite on aged care, after having an aged care royal commission which made very clear recommendations … the response of the opposition is to come in here and ask questions like this. Not to ask questions…

Ley stands up on a point of order which Dick says is not a point of order.

Milton Dick:

I want to remind all members of the house, simply raising points of order about relevance to disrupt Question Time will not be tolerated and I simply will not take the point of order if this continues. Order. I call the prime minister.

Albanese:

I was asked question about nurses in nursing homes and those opposite are saying is that it’s not relevant … the consequences of not having a nurse in a nursing home. That’s what they are saying.

We had a very clear plan about nurses in nursing homes. We had a very clear plan about 215 minutes of care. A very clear plan about more accountability for the operators of nursing homes, a very clear plan about the nutrition in nursing homes for aged care residents. Because we know that over half, according to the royal commission, over half of aged care residents were not getting the nutrition they need. They [were] literally starving.

This is the issue befalling Australians and I say to the opposition, do you think seriously about the impact of those people watching this at home who have mum or dad or grandpa or grandma or their sister or brother in an aged care home, worried about the impact which is there, worried about the deficiencies that have been identified by the aged care royal commission, and you know what they are saying around the country?

They are saying, we want a nurse in a nursing home. They are saying we want 215 minutes of care. They are saying, we want better nutrition. They say they want their accountability. Those opposite … show with this line of questioning how completely out of touch they are.

Peter Dutton stands up on indulgence:

I join with the prime minister’s sentiment in doing the best for those in aged care facilities, that is absolutely the desire and the approach of this Coalition, Mr Speaker. We will support measures by the government which will go to providing support to those in aged care facilities. This question was about how many nurses are needed…

Milton Dick is not happy:

I gave indulgence to the leader of the opposition because of the position that he holds. I will not have the use of indulgence used for political point scoring.

Updated at 01.19 EDT

Wells confirms government will need 869 new nurses to pursue 24/7 aged care support

Sussan Ley to Anika Wells:

I refer the minister to her answer last [session] that 869 new nurses would be needed for policy. In April, when asked about the number of nurses needed, now [the] minister for home affairs said we will need to bring in [the] low thousands, somewhere between 2,000 to 3,000 new people. Was the minister for home affairs [wrong] or did you, minister, mislead the House?

Wells:

I welcome the opportunity to speak of workforce numbers and shortages. Particularly the numbers that came out at estimates, I think it was 1 April from the top of my head. I think it is important to note that these numbers were the modelling of the then Morrison government when being told about workforce shortages.

The difference, Mr Speaker, is that we are actually doing something about it. We are doing something about workforce shortages.

They were given a second report and the theme of today that they chose not to tell people about. They were told the bad news and decided not to tell Australians anything about it and to try and skate through. So yes, when we’re talking about workforce, there are different numbers …

Ley:

On relevance: was the member for Hotham wrong or…

There is no point of order.

Wells:

Yes, the number is still 869, and it was 869 when you didn’t do anything about it and was thousands at the 200 care minutes, which is the other commitments you speak about often. The thing to note is when protectively asking us about where these workers will come from, it was a problem you chose to do nothing about.

You had this problem for years and years and … it is probably worth noting at this point, when we talk about aged care workforce shortages, where did it stem from? It stems from December 2013, when one of the first actions of the Abbott government was to cut the aged care workforce government compact.

Paul Fletcher gets up and Dick asks Wells if she has concluded her answer:

Wells:

No I haven’t.

So Fletcher gets his point of order – it’s on Wells’ use of “you” instead of titles. (So many people in this place reveal themselves as the classroom nark everyday.)

Dick asks Wells not to use “you” and Wells continues:

Is that if that is the most burning thing they can raise, I think that shows when we talk about workforce shortages.

This started in 2013 when one of the first acts of the Abbott government was to suspend standing orders in the House to cut the aged care workforce compact. It was one of the first things that cut workers’ rights and put us down this track. Who was the health government at this very moment when orders were suspended? Who was the health minister?

[It was] the now leader of the Opposition. He was the one who was health minister when they suspended standing orders to cut the ageing care workforce numbers Compact.

We are upfront about this. It will require thousands of workers to come back online to fix the problem. That is why we are trying to give them a pay rise. We will need 869 nurses to meet our 24/7 nursing requirement. That [was] the question you asked me on Thursday and I answered.

I think, Mr Speaker, you said if you want a different answer: ask a different question. Broadly, as you know from the second report [the Coalition] strive[s] to do nothing about, thousands of personal carriers, kitchen staff and others in aged care will be required to get to what is a better standard of care.

They are quibbling over how we work to get a better standard of care and, really, after 9 years of neglect a better standard can’t come soon enough.

Updated at 01.10 EDT

Standing order 98C limit questioners, not answers

Paul Fletcher has a very long point of order in the middle of Chris Bowen’s dixer:

It goes to the question to the extent to which ministers are given free rein to give their own interpretation of what has happened over the last 10 years.

Standing order 98C is quite clear on the range of questions to which ministers can be asked about.

It is restricted to public affairs administration the well understood requirement that the answer must be relevant to the question. It can’t be appropriate that there is a construct under which a minister is asked a question which invites him to reflect in the broadest possible terms of the conduct of previous government*. He should be telling the Australian people what the Albanese government’s plans are to solve the problem.

*Again, just choking on the irony over here, given the number of dO yOU kNoW oF AnY AlterNAtiVe apProacHEs in Morrison government dixers.

Tony Burke responds:

Just for the point of order for the benefit of the manager of opposition business. The standing order he referred to at the start carries rules for the question. They apply to the questioner.

Standing order 104 is the one that refers to the answers. That is the standing order that refers to the minister. It is not a valid point of order to use standing order 98 to try to limit what is in an answer. This question specifically included what are the consequences of a failure to act. The minister is being specifically relevant to it.

Milton Dick says he is listening to both the questions and the answers.

Updated at 01.11 EDT

Peter Hannam

Peter Hannam

Victoria and South Australia running at a sub-zero price on power today

I think we’ve settled on a standard Q&A between the opposition and the Albanese government over electricity prices. The former will keep asking when Labor’s promise of a cut of $275 in average annual household power bills will kick in, and the government will respond by saying the Morrison government deliberately delayed the release of the default market offer (and thus delayed exposing higher power prices).

Details of the power price delay were first reported here (as far as we can tell), which was pretty brazen – and set a booby trap of sorts for the next government. It’s not clear when the $275 price cut was meant to kick in by, and what the baseline is.

Perhaps we should start the clock on from this quarter?

For what it’s worth, Victoria and South Australia – thanks to good wind and sunshine today – are both operating at a sub-zero price of power in the national electricity market at about minus-$30 per megawatt hour, as we type.

As for next year, there’s continued falls in the recent week, but they have a long way to go before they get back reliably below $100/MWh.

Updated at 00.59 EDT

Dr Monique Ryan tells the Coalition to ‘put your masks on’

In her first question to the parliament, the independent MP for Kooyong, Dr Monique Ryan, makes her mark:

Repeated infections with Covid-19 are [thought] to be more severe and carry a high risk of persisting symptoms for as long as six months, as well as an increased risk of hospitalisation and death.

There is increasing risk of cumulative neurological and cardiovascular disease from infections from Covid-19. Covid-19 infections in this country are at a record high and increasing. Can the minister please explain how he proposes to manage the oncoming national significant burden of disability and chronic illness – put your masks on* – from repeated infection …with Covid-19.

*This is directed at the Coalition side of the chamber which is still mostly mask-free. There are jeers in response.

Mark Butler:

I thank the member for Kooyong for her questions and she is actually is one of the large number of health professionals in the Parliament who will add depth to our health policy.

There can be no more important time then now because this pandemic is still ravaging our community. Official numbers record that more than 300,000 Australians each and every week of being infected with Covid and we know from zero sampling and other ways that the likely number is more than twice that.

We think that as many as half of Australia has contracted Covid just over the course of this year so far.

Our focus is on getting through this wave. We have extended support to state hospital system. We have expanded access to fourth-dose vaccines and antiviral treatment.

We are encouraging Australians again to be Covid-safe. In particular, as the member pointed out, to wear masks when indoors [and] are not able to socially distance.

As the member points out [and] the member for Higgins [the Liberal Dr Katie Allen] pointed out in her beautiful speech this morning, we also need to come out to grips with long Covid. Long Covid is not easy to diagnose or treat.

The medical literature already reports more than 200 different symptoms being logged, most commonly involving fatigue, shortness of breath and what people are calling brain fog.

Some symptoms are disappearing after a few months; others experience quite specific … symptoms requiring specific interventions for example from a cardiologist.

More and more Australians are suffering longer term, multi-system disorders that prove hard to diagnose and treat.

The truth is, Mr Speaker, we don’t know [the] scale of the challenge.

A common estimate of about 4% of Covid patients experienc[ing] long-term symptoms already runs to hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Australian. Support is available through our standard medical system. States are operating long Covid clinics.

Their waiting lists are growing. It is increasingly clear to me that we will need to develop a focused response nationally to the phenomenon of long Covid.

I have already started work on the next phase of the government’s pandemic response, particularly beyond this winter and this third Omicron wave. I have already spoken to the Chief Medical Officer to introduce proposal around long Covid in particular.

I am keen to continue discussions with the member for Kooyong and other members of this place [regarding] this profound long-term health challenge that is proving so debilitating [and] distressing for so many Australian.

Updated at 00.55 EDT

It’s not exactly the more respectful question time which was promised, but I think we all knew that was going to be a harder task than asking me to give up potato.

And I will never give up potato.

King: Coalition did nothing after foot-and-mouth outbreak began

David Littleproud to Catherine King:

I refer to the agriculture minister’s admission that almost four weeks after the foot and mouth outbreak, none of the promised 1m vaccination doses have been delivered to Indonesia, nor have the additional veterinarians arrived. How many of those doses have been delivered and veterinarians arrived in Indonesia?

King [representing Murray Watt]

As the shadow minister knows, in order to deliver the vaccine, you actually have to make sure that you got the right virus in the first place and they take a while to manufacture for a start, and they will be delivered as we promised.

But if you want to talk about delays, if you want to talk about delays, when did we hear about a foot and mouth outbreak in Australia? When did we hear about it? We heard about it on Twitter from the then minister of agriculture on the 9 May.

Littleproud has a point of order.

Milton Dick:

The minister will resume her seat. She’s only been going 30 seconds. Order. The leader of the National party rising on a point of order. I’ve given you the call.

Littleproud:

Mr Speaker, understanding order 68, on Thursday after Question Time, I gave a personal explanation about the [point the] prime minister gave that quoted the tweet which the minister has just raised.

Milton Dick:

There’s no point of order, that is a separate matter. This is not the time to do it. It’s not during Question Time and I give the call to the question – I give the call to the minister and ask for it to be relevant to the question of delay in vaccine rollout in [the] four weeks after the foot and mouth outbreak has occurred. I call the minister.

King:

When do we hear about this outbreak? On Twitter, when the then minister for agriculture decided to announce it to the Australian public via tweet on 9 May and what did he do? He offered a briefing to the opposition … as per our caretaker arrangements, but then what did you do? Absolutely nothing. Nothing! You did nothing.

Updated at 00.48 EDT

For those asking, Mike Bowers has found Scott Morrison’s new spot in the house:

Scott Morrison on the backbench
Former prime minister Scott Morrison takes his seat on the backbench. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian
Scott Morrison
So much listening. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian
Bill Shorten greets Scott Morrison
Labor’s Bill Shorten greets the former prime minister, Scott Morrison. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Updated at 00.45 EDT

Albanese: interest rates were forecast to rise no matter who was in government

Angus Taylor to Anthony Albanese:

How much higher is the cash rate today compared to when you came into government? How much more are Australians paying on a typical mortgage as a result?

Albanese:

The cash rate today is 1.35 (there are cheers).

And what we know is that … the Reserve Bank said that … I want to get this quote, I want to get this right, because the Reserve Bank said … prior to the election, they foreshadowed interest rate increases.

If those opposite want to argue … that if the government had not changed, if the Australian people had not voted for change on the 21 May, [then] interest rates would be the same, then they are just kidding themselves. They are just kidding themselves.

We know that tomorrow the Reserve Bank will meet and is likely to make another decision.

We will wait and see what that independent decision is but I do note, I do note that less than one month into the election and this perhaps summarises the attitude of those opposite and where these questions derive from.

They said, quite frankly, the Labor government has had nine years in opposition to prepare for the date [they] would be in government, so there’s no excuse.

They spent nine years in office, [Peter Dutton’s face here is art] nine years in office, they will not take responsibility [for] anything that they left, the trillion dollars of debt or any of the other chaos they left in the economy, the failure on social policy, the failure on energy policy, the failure on environmental policy, they will not take responsibility for their failure on transparency, where we’ve seen they hid the energy prices…

Paul Fletcher gets up with a point of order, but Albanese decides he has concluded his answer.

Updated at 00.50 EDT

Albanese: Coalition was a ‘light-on government that did nothing to keep the lights on’

Ted O’Brien is getting more face time in opposition than he ever had when his party was in government. He has a question for Anthony Albanese:

My question goes to the prime minister and I refer to the fact that the official Labor party website continues to promote the promise of a $275 cut in people’s household bills … it [is] still there today. (INTERJECTIONS)

Will the prime minister please tell us why he is giving false hope to Australians who are already struggling with cost of living that they are going to get a cut in their power bills?

Albanese:

I will ask the minister [to add to this]. I shouldn’t get all of this. I should spread the opportunity. The truth is that [the Coalition] knew before the election that power prices were going up but they chose to keep Australians in the dark. A light-on government that did nothing to keep the lights on.

That’s what the opposition was. 22 different energy policies; [they] did not land one of them … We have one policy, we announced it in December last year, we will implement that policy and we will deliver more renewables into the system which is the cheapest form of new energy.

Unlike those opposite, who actually had a billion-dollar fund that they announced … they announced project after project. Three years ago …

(Ted O’Brien has a point on order and Albanese is asked to stay relevant)

He lists a few broken promises and then the minister for climate, Chris Bowen, gets a guernsey (that’s to say, it’s his turn to speak):

We are going after those commitments because we know that clean energy is cheap energy, so we have already started introducing our policies. To 80% of our grid. It is the case that the former minister didn’t not only not release he sat in his office and signed energy.

Once he had done it he thought to himself, “fantastic. Well done Angus” … We have got the former minister for energy who sat on energy price rises. We have got the former minister for the environment who sat on the report … [I’m] surprised they don’t have their meetings in a safe house.

Milton Dick reminds Bowen to refer to members by their titles.

Updated at 00.49 EDT

Chalmers: no intention to introduce windfall tax on gas companies

Elizabeth Watson-Brown, the Greens MP for Ryan has a question for Jim Chalmers:

My question as to the Treasurer. We are in a… cost of living [crisis] but corporations are making record profits, and the gas corporations are gouging us all. In the upcoming budget will you place a windfall tax on these excess profits to invest in universal services like getting dental into Medicare and bring down the cost of living for everyone?

Chalmers:

Thank you very much. I think the member for Ryan for her question and congratulate her on her election. It is not the government’s intention to apply a windfall tax to the gas companies.

Obviously, we listen respectfully to the views put to us from right around the country about the best ways to deal with this combination of cost of living pressures, a big part of which [is the] skyrocketing cost of energy … but we are not currently working up a windfall tax or anything that looks like that as we deal with the complex combination of economic circumstances that we have inherited as a new government.

We do have a policy on multinational taxes which is part of making sure that multinationals pay their fair share of taxes in Australia, so that we can invest that money [in] some of those areas that the member for Ryan is right to identify, whether it be Medicare, whether it be childcare, investments and educational skills. All of these important areas.

One of our defining tasks as a government … is how do we take money which has been spent on unproductive purposes for a political dividend and how do we redirect that money, in the interests of the Australian people, into areas which does deliver, whether it is a social dividend or economic dividend … as the creators of Medicare … we are looking for ways to more responsively fund those priorities.

When it comes to the energy market in particular … our focus on the energy market is on security and affordability ... some of the issues which have been raised by the ACCC in the report that I released overnight which go to making sure that Australians can access the energy that they need at affordable prices.

That is a big reason why inflation is what it is because energy prices are going through the roof. That we are conscious of that and I working to ensure that we can responsibly addressed that but the proposal that the member for Ryan has respectfully put to us is respectfully not … a path that we are going down.

Updated at 00.30 EDT

Katter: I identify as a First Australian but whether I am or not is ‘irrelevant’

Labor’s dixers are on the Indigenous Voice to parliament. Bob Katter stands up:

As the minister for Queensland the state with the biggest population of Indigenous Australians, you will hear me identify myself as a First Australian. Whether I am or not is irrelevant. It is an important point I make. It is an important serious point I make.

Speaker Milton Dick asks him why he is on his feet. Are you asking a question?

Katter:

I’m sorry I was commenting, point of order on the last question, if I am out of order I will resume seat.

There is no point of order. Katter sits down.

Updated at 00.22 EDT

Dutton: why isn’t Labor extending the fuel excise? Albanese: you set the end date

As commentators pointed out, the danger of the opposition asking about cost of living, is that so much can be turned back on the previous government. But points for asking about something relevant to people. Baby steps.

Peter Dutton:

To the prime minister, under your government … households are facing rising power bills [and] your plan to address this is in disarray. Will your government compound the pressure on household budgets by not extending the fuel excise relief? Why is Labor making a bad situation worse?

Anthony Albanese:

Did that just happen? Thanks, Mr Speaker. I thank the leader of the opposition for his question. I point to the fact that he was in the cabinet that put together the budget; it had the end date for the measure he talks about.

To be fair, things have changed again and while the previous government did put in the end date, Labor has the power to extend it.

Updated at 00.21 EDT

Albanese: former government locked in these higher power prices

From that to the questions.

Peter Dutton to Anthony Albanese:

My question is to the prime minister. ABS data shows electricity prices increased on average by 12.9% per year when Labor was last in government compared to just 0.3% during the previous Coalition government. Given the prime minister has dumped his promise to cut our prices by $275 for Australian families, can the prime minister cut the hubris and tell families with a prior power prices will be higher or lower when they get their next bill?

Albanese (following in the tradition of recent prime ministers of asking for hands up during question time):

I thanks so much the leader of the opposition for this question which goes to whether Australians will have higher power prices when they get their next bill, and I’m happy to outline for the benefit of the house what the circumstances are when they get their next bill, because we have course did have a policy we announced on 3 December last year.

On the 31 March this year, the governor general signed a determination to delay the publication of the default market offer for energy prices. On 6 April, the determination to amend paragraph 17-2C of the industry code was registered and published. On the 7 April, the determination with the delayed date came into effect and guess when the election was called? The 10 April. So three days before the election was called, this minister, this minister went to the [governor general and] put in a determination to change the industry code to keep it secret.

On the 11 April, parliament was prorogued and caretaker commenced. On the 1 May … the previous publication date was the date [of] the default market offer.

21 May was election day and guess when they published it, was it before or after the 21 May? What do you think? Hands up those who think it might have been before the election? Hands up those who think it was after the election?

(Paul Fletcher tries to have a point of order, but he is denied.)

Albanese:

Those people who said it was after the election were spot on. On the 26 May … the default market offer was finally published by the Australian energy regulator, and the new default price that will feed straight into people’s power bills came into effect on 1 July.

The default market price … that this former government tried to hide from the Australian people. What we know is that renewables will lead to cheaper power prices. We stand by our modelling, those opposite … couldn’t even be straight with the Australian people about the higher power prices that they locked in.

Updated at 00.16 EDT

Question time begins

Anthony Albanese is on his feet, paying tribute to Archie Roach (his family has given permission for his name to be used)

Albanese:

May his family draw consolation that maybe Archie just walks in another place with his beloved Ruby once more. While we grieve his death, we will try to heed his words. We will not cry, we will lift our spirits high up to the sky. We will hold onto everything that Archie Roach gave us and celebrate him and all that he created. What a remarkable man. What a privilege that our lives overlapped with his. May he rest in peace.

Peter Dutton also spoke in tribute.

The house had a moment’s silence in honour of Archie Roach.

Brave

Amidst a cost of living crisis, Anthony Albanese and Labor are breaking their election promise to decrease your electricity bill by $275.

— Peter Dutton (@PeterDutton_MP) August 1, 2022