Good morning

It’s Tuesday, which means it is party room meeting day – the second last for the parliamentary year.

The house is going to be focused on the national anti-corruption commission bill for much of this week – it has to be, because there are so many amendments, the house needs as many days as possible to get through them.

Negotiations are on-going when it comes to the IR bill, with the senate committee looking into the bill due to report back today. Which means it is ON. The negotiations will be coming to the pointy end very soon – David Pocock will decide how much of this bill passes the senate and when, and both sides are taking the negotiations very seriously.

That is going to take up much of the week.

So we are all in a watch and wait situation, while the senate also waits to see if it needs to sit for longer to get as many bills as possible through it. The thing there is, if the senate amends any of those bills then the house has to approve it, so there is no point getting the senate to sit, if negotiations are on-going on the bills.

What a week, huh?

Katharine Murphy, Daniel Hurst, Josh Butler and Paul Karp will bring you all of the days news. Mike Bowers is still covering the floods (we miss you Mikey!) but you have Amy Remeikis with you on the blog for most of the day.

It will be a six coffee day. I can just feel it.

Ready?

Let’s get into it.

Key events

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Meanwhile, on ABC radio RN, Jacqui Lambie expressed concerns over the ‘exceptional circumstances’ for public hearings clause in the national anti-corruption bill.

BUT.

That doesn’t mean she isn’t in support. Her tone suggested she is very on-board with passing it, praising both “Dr Helen” [Haines] while talking about what a “momentous occasion” it was for the parliament and nation.

Pocock says he can’t vote for IR bill as it stands

David Pocock was asked how he would vote on the IR bill, if he was made to vote for it today while on ABC radio RN.

He said he couldn’t “in good conscience” vote for the bill, if it came to the crunch today (which it won’t, it was a hypothetical).

So, however those negotiations are going (and both sides say negotiations are constructive and being done in good faith) they aren’t there yet.

Anthony Albanese will start the day with a tour of Eugowra to see the flood damage with the NSW premier.

Dominic Perrottet didn’t exactly receive the warmest of receptions the last time he was in a flood zone. Both governments have upped assistance, but people are traumatised and still grieving.

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

The head of the World Trade Organization, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is in Canberra and is due to meet with the Australian trade minister, Don Farrell, this morning.

Australia has pursued complaints via the WTO regarding China’s trade actions against Australian wine and barley exports, but such disputes can take years to resolve and the Australian government has been urging Beijing to drop the measures.

While these disputes could be part of the discussions, Farrell and Okonjo-Iweala are also likely to talk about broader reform of the WTO and international rules for digital trade.

The WTO director general is due to address the Lowy Institute in Sydney this evening.

We don’t want to see industries ‘hollowed out’: Jim Chalmers

Katharine Murphy

Katharine Murphy

Politics watchers will know the Albanese government has been telegraphing a regulatory intervention in the energy market since just before the October budget, which contained a new forecast that power prices will increase by more than 50% by the end of next year. At Senate estimates recently, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission confirmed it was working on policy options including potential price caps, bargaining provisions for smaller energy users, and a legally binding code of conduct for the gas sector.

The government wants to resolve a concrete way forward before Christmas, but for now the work remains in train.

Yesterday the treasurer, Jim Chalmers, met more than 70 business leaders, including manufacturers, at an event organised by the Ai Group. Chalmers told the group the regulatory intervention was commanding most of his focus at present.

We know that high energy prices brought about by the war in Ukraine, and by a decade where we haven’t had the investment in energy that we’ve needed to see, we know that this has the capacity to strangle local industries, and our local employers, and we care about that deeply.

The treasurer said the government did not want to see industries and Australia’s industrial base “hollowed out by a war on the other side of the world”.

Jim Chalmers:

I think it would be fair to say that none of us are enthusiastic intervenors in markets like this one, you know, in normal times, we don’t sit around contemplating some of the interventions that we are currently contemplating. But we think these are extraordinary times, and they require some different thinking about the best kind of intervention that we might be able to make. Any intervention that we make in energy markets will be temporary, it will be meaningful and worth the effort, and it will be sensible and responsible. We want to find a way if we can, to make a meaningful difference in this market, without messing with our international obligations, and our preference is on the regulatory side rather than on the tax side. And so that gives you a bit of a sense of where we’re up to, and where we’re headed and why. Now, as you can imagine, this involves a lot of complexity. There are different parts of the economy with strong views about how this is best done, and whether this is best done. So we are acting as urgently as we can, but subject to some of those complexities.

Chalmers said the government recognised “we need to consult on something as meaningful and potentially consequential as what we’re contemplating.”

Paul Karp

Paul Karp

Independent senator David Pocock has said that more small businesses should be exempted from the single interest multi employer bargaining stream.

Pocock said:

One of the biggest concerns raised with the proposed industrial relations reforms is the impact on small business. I appreciate the argument put forward by the ACTU and others that your rights at work should not be determined by the size of your employer.

The balance of evidence provided to me suggests that multi-employer bargaining will be too big an impost on smaller businesses and therefore the threshold for inclusion in the non-voluntary streams needs to be higher.

Of course smaller businesses can opt-in to bargain for their own single-enterprise or multi-enterprise cooperative agreements instead.”

Paul Karp

Paul Karp

Labor to close loophole in IR bill

The Albanese government will move to close a “loophole” its industrial relations bill would introduce into the Better Off Overall Test that might allow employers to hire workers on worse conditions than the award.

Labor’s bill seeks to simplify the Boot by directing the Fair Work Commission to consider only whether those employed at the time the pay deal was made are better off.

The breakaway Retail and Fast Food Workers Union and industrial relations academic, Adelaide law school’s Prof Andrew Stewart, have warned that could allow employers to hire workers after the deal was struck on lower conditions.

Earlier in November, Stewart told the Senate inquiry – due to report on Tuesday – that this was “a drafting mistake” that “needs to be corrected”.

The workplace relations minister, Tony Burke, has confirmed that the loophole will be closed.

On Wednesday evening Burke told a town hall meeting organised by senator David Pocock:

The update of the better off overall test is meant to work this way: effectively the test itself remains as it is. But if you find, somebody has fallen outside of it, you find either at the time or later that they’re actually were some workers who were going to be worse off instead of blowing up the whole agreement and saying, ‘OK now there’s no agreement at all’ the commission will have the power to fix it for those workers.

Now there’s some further amendments that probably will need to be made following the Senate inquiry, because there’s an argument that’s been made that we’re now working through, that some people might still slip through the cracks on this …The principle we’re determined to have is that no person should be worse off.

Now, some people … think they’ve found a way, potentially, that it could be gamed. And there could be a pathway where an agreement designed along specific lines, some workers could still be worse off in the future.

So we’re working through that in the department to work out what amendments are required so that’s not true.”

The Senate committee is chaired by Labor’s Tony Sheldon. With three Labor senators and one Green on the committee, the majority report is expected to recommend the bill be passed.

The Coalition will dissent – and has already proposed a suite of amendments to the IR bill in the lower house, including removing sections abolishing the Australian Building and Construction Commission, and expanding the carve-out for small businesses from the single-interest multi-employer bargaining system.

Pocock, the swing vote in the Senate and a participating member in the inquiry, is expected to deliver additional comments.

Pocock has proposed splitting the bill to deal with single-interest multi-employer bargaining next year. He has also expressed concerns about “unions having a veto” before pay deals are put to a vote and the small business threshold, which is currently a headcount of 15.

High winds leave thousands without power in south-east

Thousands of people in New South Wales and Victoria have been hit with electricity outages as damaging winds toppled trees and put power lines out of action.

A late spring cold burst moving over Australia’s south-east has been to blame for cold temperatures, low snow, and damaging winds in multiple states, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

A severe weather warning area covered parts of South Australia, Victoria, and the NSW and ACT on Monday, with meteorologists warning of gusts up to 100kmh.

Thousands of customers in NSW lost power as a result, with Endeavour Energy saying they were dealing with nearly 25,000 people whose supply was affected as of Monday afternoon.

The energy company pointed to wind gusts of 90kmh as the cause of the outages. By Monday evening the number of people affected on their network had dropped to fewer than 4,000.

Lisa Cox

Lisa Cox

Queensland destroys threatened species habitat without environmental assessment

The equivalent of 200,000 football fields of threatened species habitat was destroyed in Queensland in a single year without being assessed under national environmental laws, according to new analysis from the Australian Conservation Foundation.

Among the 100 animal species affected was the endangered koala, which had 75,547 hectares of likely forest habitat destroyed in 2018-19 – triple the amount formally approved under national laws between 2011 and 2021 – the authors of the research say.

The report says almost all of the threatened species habitat (96%) was cleared for livestock pasture expansion and there were thousands of instances of clearing that were potential breaches of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act because they had not been referred to the federal environment department for assessment despite meeting the required thresholds.

ACF’s national nature campaigner Jess Abrahams said: “While mining companies and property developers sought and received approval to clear 25,000 hectares of habitat in the last decade, this research shows in a single year pastoralists destroyed three times that amount in Queensland alone without even seeking approval.”

The ACF and the conservation biologist Martin Taylor collated the data through geospatial analysis and an examination of the environment department’s own decisions under national laws during 2018-19.

Good morning

It’s Tuesday, which means it is party room meeting day – the second last for the parliamentary year.

The house is going to be focused on the national anti-corruption commission bill for much of this week – it has to be, because there are so many amendments, the house needs as many days as possible to get through them.

Negotiations are on-going when it comes to the IR bill, with the senate committee looking into the bill due to report back today. Which means it is ON. The negotiations will be coming to the pointy end very soon – David Pocock will decide how much of this bill passes the senate and when, and both sides are taking the negotiations very seriously.

That is going to take up much of the week.

So we are all in a watch and wait situation, while the senate also waits to see if it needs to sit for longer to get as many bills as possible through it. The thing there is, if the senate amends any of those bills then the house has to approve it, so there is no point getting the senate to sit, if negotiations are on-going on the bills.

What a week, huh?

Katharine Murphy, Daniel Hurst, Josh Butler and Paul Karp will bring you all of the days news. Mike Bowers is still covering the floods (we miss you Mikey!) but you have Amy Remeikis with you on the blog for most of the day.

It will be a six coffee day. I can just feel it.

Ready?

Let’s get into it.

Welcome

Good morning everyone and welcome to the live blog. My colleague Amy Remeikis will be here shortly to cover the day’s politics – but in the meantime let’s have a look at the top news stories this morning.

  • Our top story this morning is that Simon Holmes à Court’s fundraising group, Climate 200, is considering backing up to 10 teal challengers in the New South Wales election in March. After the political storm set off by independents in this year’s federal election, the Climate 200 move is set to inspire another set of tough tests for sitting MPs in the state.

  • As towns begin a slow recovery from flooding, more wild weather has hit New South Wales and Victoria this morning in the shape of strong winds that have left thousands of homes without electricity. A severe weather warning area covered parts of South Australia, Victoria, and the NSW and ACT on Monday, with meteorologists warning of gusts up to 100kmh.

  • Overseas this morning, an earthquake in Java has killed at least 160 people. The US Geological Survey said the quake, which struck late in the afternoon on Monday, was centred in the Cianjur region of West Java province at a depth of 10km.

Iran supporters in the crowd at the world cup
Iran fans supports their team during the 2022 World Cup Group B match at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar. Photograph: Chris Brunskill/UPI/REX/Shutterstock



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