Scott Morrison was celebrating the TPP this morning ahead of it passing the Senate (as per the PMO transcript)
Can I tell you, I remember when the TPP-11, which now become … when the TPP was then made known. I was treasurer at the time and I was actually in Germany on some G20 business and the number of countries that came to us and said, “Are you still going to push ahead with this? Are you really going to keep going with this? Isn’t it a waste of time?” And I said, “Absolutely.”
The prime minister was saying at the time. And I can’t underscore enough how this agreement demonstrates our government’s commitment to expanding our trade markets.
It’s pretty easy to walk away from these sorts of things, and we saw the opposition um and ah over the China free trade agreement, we saw them actually parody this agreement. Parody what we’ve been able to achieve. And I think that says to every small and family business out there, every business out there, that when it comes to trade, we’ll back you in every time. We won’t walk away, we will always stand up. Australia is an open, trading nation, exporting quality products and services all around the world. We know that, we get that, we’ll back it in every single time.
Liberal senator James Paterson popped up on Sky to talk about why the Israel embassy should move to Jerusalem.
It’s no surprise he is in favour. It’s also a policy that is put forward by the branches at state and national level quite frequently. Until Tuesday, the parliamentary team response was “this won’t be happening”.
“ … It is Israel’s capital. The only question is, should we persist with the fiction, should we pretend it is not really Israel’s capital, or should we pretend another city, to the north is actually Israel’s capital? I don’t think there is any value in pretending, when we know what the truth is.
“ … I would be very surprised if it cost us a free trade agreement, because there are very good reasons for Indonesia to have that free trade agreement, just as there are very good reasons for Australia to have that agreement. It is in both our interests.”
TPP bill passes
The Trans-Pacific Partnership deal has passed the Senate.
The Greens were against it, but Labor, despite internal division, supported the legislation, which meant it sailed through.
All five amendment attempts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership bill have been rejected and the Senate is voting on the bill.
Sarah Hanson-Young has put forward this amendment on the TPP debate the Senate is undertaking right now (given Labor’s support for the TPP, this debate is largely a tick and flick):
(1) Clause 2, page 2 (cell at table item 2, column 2), omit the cell, substitute:
If the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, done at Santiago, Chile on 8 March 2018, enters into force for Australia — the first day that:
(a) both of the following amendments of that Agreement are in force for Australia:
(i) an amendment with the effect that Chapter 9 of the Agreement, which deals with investor-State disputes, does not apply in relation to investments within Australia;
(ii) an amendment with the effect that labour market testing must occur in relation to contractual service suppliers entering, or proposing to enter, Australia from all parties to the Agreement; and
(b) another Act is in force that includes provisions with the effect that Australia must not, after the commencement of that Act, enter into a trade agreement with one or more other countries that:
(i) waives labour market testing requirements for workers from those countries; or
(ii) includes an investor-state dispute settlement provision.
However, the provisions do not commence at all unless all of the events mentioned in this item occur.
It was voted down.
More changes at the ABC:
And as I’ve just been reminded, Mark Latham and the Liberal Democrats parted ways in September.
From Rosie Lewis’s story in the Oz:
‘I’ve been a Liberal Democrats member for the past 16 months. In recent times the national executive has been discussing my possible nomination for political candidacy without resolution,’ Mr [Mark] Latham wrote to the LDP.
‘Given the nature of the impasse, I have been advised to run elsewhere. In the circumstances, it’s only fair and reasonable that I ask you to cancel my Liberal Democrats membership please.’
Still – stranger things have happened.
David Leyonhjelm has just got back to me.
He says nothing is final about his own move yet but it’s “likely”.
“Still a few variables to consider but if everything falls into place I will be going to NSW LC,” he said.
There you have it.
Fairfax is reporting David Leyonhjelm will mostly likely leave the federal Senate in February for a tilt at the NSW upper house.
That would make sense – he is up for re-election at the next federal poll and the normal Senate quota of 14. something % seems a lot more difficult for the Liberal Democrats to gain than the NSW legislative council quota, which is 4.22 % (or less, depending on preference flows).
What that means, if he does quit, is the Lib-Dems will have a casual vacancy. Could we see Mark Latham returned to the parliament, even if just for a few months?
Stranger things have happened.
We’ve sent a message to the senator, to see what’s up.
For those who haven’t seen Helen Davidson’s story on Nauru:
Nauruan authorities have arrested and ordered the removal of the senior medical officer for Australia’s immigration processing centre, an Australian doctor, according to sources on the island.
According to separate sources, Dr Nicole Montana, senior medical officer for Australia’s health contractor, IHMS, was arrested on Tuesday night and ordered to leave.
A spokeswoman for IHMS would not confirm the arrest but said Montana was stood down on Tuesday “for a breach of Regional Processing Centre rules”.
“She is departing Nauru today. A replacement senior medical officer is already in Nauru, there has been no impact on the services provided to transferees.”
Expect this to only turn up the heat on the call of the Australian Medical Association and others to bring children and their families to Australia for treatment.
As Katharine Murphy mentioned yesterday, Orthodox Jewish people will have already voted in Wentworth. Because you know, there is that little thing called the Sabbath, which tends to count Saturdays out.
Which makes the “discussion” we are having about moving the embassy in Israel even more ridiculous.
The pre-vote figures from the AEC play some of that out.
The diplomatic fallout from the “proposed discussion” is continuing on its merry way:
Just as a reminder, here is what Michael McCormack had to say about the Nationals’ leadership issues, which have begun swirling around again now that Barnaby Joyce has decided he has spent enough time in political purgatory:
I will never, ever, background a journalist, and I think there is a cancer in Canberra at the moment, and it’s people who background journalists. It’s no good for politics. It’s no good for parliament. It’s true, I have to say: there are people opposite who also background journalists. You’ll find out. You’ll find out for sure. You already are finding out.
But you know what? The Australian people expect better. They expect better from politicians. I see the member for Sydney nodding, because she agrees. Whether it’s the Nats or whether it’s the Liberal party or whether it’s the Labor party, you know what? The Australian public just want us to focus on what’s important to them.
It was a shot across the bow, for shizzle, but might have landed better if his party was listening. Parts of it seem to be. Just not maybe the parts he needs.
The government has again refused to table the Philip Ruddock-led review into religious freedoms to the Senate:
Mathias Cormann had this to say about it:
The Ruddock report was commissioned by cabinet for the express purpose of informing cabinet deliberations in relation to a range of matters related to religious freedom. It was provided to the government in May. In due course, cabinet will finalise its response to the report’s recommendations. As such, the deliberative processes of cabinet in relation to the report provided to the government by the expert panel have yet to be completed.
I hasten to add, again, that the deliberative process of cabinet does not just commence with the consideration by the full cabinet of a final submission with a final set of recommendations. The deliberative process of cabinet actually begins with the relevant minister or ministers putting together a draft submission, and the work leading up to the putting-together of a draft submission, which ultimately is destined to be considered by cabinet.
Clearly the document referred to in the motion is the central input into a deliberative process of cabinet. While the report and the response have not yet been considered by the full cabinet, the report has already informed and continues to inform the deliberative process of cabinet. As is well recognised in the Westminster system, it is in the public interest to preserve the confidentiality of cabinet deliberations, to ensure the best possible decisions are made following thorough consideration and discussion of relevant proposals within cabinet. The release of this document at this time would harm the public interest, in that it would interfere with the deliberative processes of cabinet and good decision-making.
The government will release the report in due course, following proper consideration of its recommendations by government through the deliberative processes of cabinet. Indeed, we will release the report together with the government’s response to it.
Parliament’s Gossip Girl Derryn Hinch is spilling the tea on Senate corridor movements:
And it comes on the back of this:
Just for a change of pace, and because we need a little bit of inspiring news from time to time, this is also something that is happening from our little place on the hill:
Greg Hunt will be waving Alan Staines off on his walk tomorrow morning. Alan wants to raise awareness around Australia’s suicide rate, because of just how many lives it touches.
“Deaths in Australia due to suicide now exceed motor vehicle accidents, war, natural disasters and homicides combined. The hidden costs of suicidal behaviour are estimated to be $17 billion a year. And yet there is little attention given to the issue of suicide,” he said.
He’s not alone – there has been a concerted effort from organisations in the mental health and health sector to get the government to pay more attention to this.
Crisis support services can be reached 24 hours a day: Lifeline 13 11 14; Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467; Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800; MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78; Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
We are three days out from polls closing on Wentworth, where the Liberal party are scrambling to hold on to its one-seat majority in the House of Reps.
Now, the polls are bad. Single-seat polls are notoriously difficult to get right because, well, the samples are a bit hinky and we have seen time and time again the polls predict the exactly wrong result.
But the Liberal party showed just how worried it is when Scott Morrison came out on Tuesday, having briefed parts of the media on Monday night, that he was open to the discussion that Australia should move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
That had nothing to do with Wentworth, we were told. Nothing at all. And it definately has nothing to do with the almost 13% of voters in Wentworth who practice Judaism. That would be an offensive conclusion to draw. He just wanted to discuss it because, you know, that’s what prime ministers do. Discuss potentially tearing up decades of foreign policy, and going against 90 % of the world a week out from a crucial byelection with a large Jewish population, just because.
The Liberals, thanks to Malcolm Turnbull, hold Wentworth by almost 18%. It was a 2.5% margin in 2007, so Turnbull not only worked that seat, he put his thing down, flipped it and reversed it.
And still the government is worried it could lose it. And with it, its majority in the parliament (although Cathy McGowan has confirmed she will still give the government confidence*).
Do they have a right to be so worried, given that margin?
Well, thanks to one of the wags who likes to sprinkle my days with fun political facts, and the occasional Kate Bushism, I can tell you that the three worst byelection results since the war were:
Bass (1975) – swing against the Labor govt was 14.6%
Canberra (1995) – swing against the Labor govt was 16.1%
Werriwa (1952) – swing against the Lib govt was 12.4% (though seat did not change hands)
In Bass and Canberra, the government also lost power.
After the 2015 Queensland election, where Labor went from nine seats to government, I would never underestimate voter anger. It just depends how angry the people of Wentworth actually are.
*oops, accidentally typed supply the first time. Well spotted.
And on that absolute masterclass in bell-endery (a few of you pointed this out in the comments last night), Luke Howarth, whose seat of Petrie sits smack back in One Nation territory, had a slightly different take on the issue during his Sky interview yesterday:
“At the end of the day, I think this has been blown out of all proportion,” he said.
… What we are seeing from Pauline Hanson and the Labor party in the House of Reps today [Tuesday] is everything people in my electorate hate about Canberra. So if you go to people in my electorate and say, ‘well, it’s okay to be white’, most people would have no idea what you are referring about. They’d go ‘well, of course it is’. But down here, they are in this little bubble where One Nation and Labor want to play games and the fact is people on the ground think ‘what the hell are you guys doing down there’.
On Scott Morrison coming out and saying it was “regrettable”, Howarth had this to say:
“Well, I believe that was a mistake by the government as well, we should have just let it die.”
… I believe the government should have just let it die yesterday [Monday] and I think the opposition were wrong to raise it again in the House of Reps again today [Tuesday].
They should have just come out and said straight forward that the reason why they voted for it was because when you read what Senator Hanson said by itself it is fine, but when you put it in the context of what the Labor party raised, saying it was from a white supremacist group in the US, and not being a US MP I wasn’t aware of it, it has [been] given it more air time.
Michelle Grattan, who checks, double checks and then checks her information again (as do we, but for context) wrote about the monumental stuff-up, which was the “administrative error” that saw the government vote yes when it meant no.
When these Senate motions – on average there are 50-60 every sitting week – come, the government asks the relevant ministerial office to advise. In this case, it was the office of Attorney-General Christian Porter.
Porter says his staff interpreted Hanson’s [motion] as “a motion opposing racism. The associations of the language were not picked up”. An email was sent – advising support – “without my knowledge”.
Porter put the blame on his staff – in fact two were involved – for misinterpreting the motion and so failing to “escalate” it up to him.
One would have thought ministerial staff would be particularly alert to Hanson motions, and think very carefully before concluding she was doing something as unlikely as putting forward an anti-racist one.
Porter’s office gave its first advice in September, when the motion was lodged.
But in a tactics meeting, Mathias Cormann, who is Senate leader, overrode the view from the Porter office.
The Senate leadership decided the Coalition would oppose the motion, accompanying its opposition with a statement that the government condemned all forms of racism.
The motion was expected to come to a vote on September 20 but the Senate ran out of time.
When the motion was looming this week, unbeknown to Cormann, fresh advice was sought from Porter’s office, which again declared it should be supported.
Cormann was paired and not in the chamber when it was dealt with; he only found out the government had voted for it after the event (it was defeated 31-28). Cormann hadn’t been informed that his earlier decision had been overridden by the latest advice from the Porter office. Another failure of “escalation”.
Cormann threw himself under the blame bus on Tuesday, but actually he’d tried earlier to stop the government being run over by the Hanson truck.
Which might explain why Cormann looked like he wanted to rock under a desk for most of yesterday. But at least he stepped up and took the blame. You know who we didn’t get a press conference from yesterday? Porter.
Who doesn’t love the smell of a diplomatic storm in the morning?
Despite numerous, numerous reports that Indonesia is pretty cranky at the suggestion we might even be considering moving our Israeli embassy, and the cloud that puts over the trade agreement we have signed with them, Scott Morrison says everything is fine.
The Indonesian trade minister has discounted that report. That doesn’t surprise me. We have been in close engagement with Indonesia and we share one important value in common – we both believe in a two-state solution and that is the basis of the comments I have made today.
Anyone who follows Indonesian foreign policy knows that ministers can say something, and then policy can change on a dime.
Which is why all our foreign policy wonks are warning us not to do it.
Speaking of Nauru and Manus Island, today’s press club address is by Peter Maurer, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
He’s speaking on the “global trends of war and their humanitarian impacts”. Given that Australia is involved in some of those global trends of war, and knows exactly what the humanitarian impacts can be, it should be quite interesting.
The Morrison government has woken to wall-to-wall bad headlines, featuring its allies warning it against walking away from a foreign policy Australia has held for decades, just days out from a byelection that will decide whether it holds on to its one-seat majority or not.
And it is an entire self-own.
Scott Morrison’s decision to have a “discussion” about whether or not Australia should move its Israel embassy to Jerusalem has gone down like a lead balloon with key trading partners and traditional allies.
The only one who seems happy, other than Israel, is America, with Donald Trump embracing the fact someone else might be following his path.
So now Morrison and Josh Frydenberg, who has been sent out over the past 24 hours to talk about how talking about this is not a bad talk to have, are now defending that talk, while batting away any mention of the “Wentworth byelection”.
The “proposed discussion” has been roundly criticised for it’s timing. Morrison is desperately trying to come up with reasons why it’s not about Wentworth, but given the announcement, which came out of the blue, and on the back of some bad polling for the Liberals, he is not having much luck.
We’ll follow that, and the latest on Nauru, with the parliament now waking up to the fact that the public probably isn’t so cool with leaving asylum seekers to sit in Nauru and Manus Island indefinitely. Members of the Liberal backbench – the same ones who were largely steamrolled by their more conservative colleagues on practically every issue under the sun – are now speaking up, loudly, that they want a solution too.
But it’s become snagged on the “lifetime ban” clause the government wants to put on the asylum seekers. Labor and the Greens say no and so do enough of the crossbench, that the legislation has been sitting there in the twilight zone.
Mike Bowers is still on assignment, so it’s just me and the Guardian’s brains trust this morning. I hope you have had your coffee, because if yesterday was any indication, it is going to be a doozy.
Let’s get into it.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010