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Paul Karp

Paul Karp

The minister for international development and the Pacific, Pat Conroy, has revealed that the government will introduce an American green card style lottery for permanent residency for 3,000 people from Pacific countries.

Conroy told ABC News Breakfast:

The intention is to start the scheme after the 1st of July this year. This is a change in our permanent migration system to allocate 3,000 permanent migration spots to families from the Pacific each year is a critical way of improving and building our people to people links with the Pacific family. It is revolutionary and it will deepen our ties to a region that is critical to our future.”

Conroy noted this will add to the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme, which provides work placements of nine months to four years.

He said:

We have ramped up that since coming to government. It was 24,000 when we won power in May. We set a goal of 35,000 by 1 July this year and we hit that in December. That is filling labour shortages, skilling up Pacific workers for when they go home and sending $500 million of income back home. The Pacific engagement visa which we’re introducing into parliament today is different. That is about permanent migration. This is allocating 3,000 spots to Pacific families each year to make a new life in Australia, to deepen the Pacific diaspora in Australia and deepen our people to people links.

There is no one in the parliament who knows more about energy policy (yes, this includes the MPs) than Katharine Murphy.

And she’s also very adept at cutting through the noise to what is actually going on.

In this case, it’s the negotiations on the safeguards bill. If you missed her this morning on ABC radio RN Breakfast, here you go

The ABS will release the latest unemployment data today (at 11.30)

During the RBA governor Phil Lowe’s appearance in front of the senate estimates committee, he said the bank’s “central scenario” was seeing the unemployment rate RISE to 4.5%, as that would help to lower inflation to 3% in coming years.

The unemployment rate is currently 3.5%. The tight labour market has meant people who struggled to get a job because of age or disability or lack of skills are now finding it easier to find employment (not in all cases, obviously – employers have still not worked out how to work with chronic illnesses, or people who can not work ‘normal’ shifts because of physical or other limitations’) but under Lowe’s ‘central forecast’, Australia’s “full employment” level of unemployment would increase to 4.5%, once again closing off the job market for many.

A certain level of unemployed people is built into the economic infrastructure as a way of lowering inflation.

Under this thinking, Australia’s leaders seem incapable of balancing actual full employment, with inflation, meaning some people are always made to suffer.

Officials know this, and yet they don’t pay unemployed people above the poverty line, even though by being unemployed, they are essentially taking one for Team Australia.

Economic inclusion committee a ‘sham’, says Antipoverty Centre

The economic inclusion committee was set up as part of the government’s negotiations with David Pocock to get its IR legislation across the line last year.

The Antipoverty Centre, which is run by people with lived experience of welfare and poverty, says the detail on the committee has only confirmed its fears it is a tick-and-flick exercise that won’t actually help lift people above the poverty line.

Antipoverty Centre spokesperson and DSP recipient Kristin O’Connell said the committee “has no power [and] no people who are economically excluded”:

It has no credibility whatsoever.

No one who claims to value the voices and lives of people in poverty should associate themselves with this sham committee. If you support the exclusion of unemployed people you are contributing to our demonisation.

Any person who thinks the “sustainability” is a crucial question while we endure a welfare system that is killing people is rejecting the humanity of people who can’t afford to live.

We are sick and tired of endless inquiries, reports, consultations and advisory bodies that always reach the same conclusions but are too cowardly to insist on obvious solutions.

The government does not need new information or advice from so-called experts who know nothing about our lives. It knows what’s needed as well as we do: poor people need money.

And that’s why it can’t have the real experts in poverty on its committee – the prime minister needs an excuse to hide behind when he refuses to increase welfare payments to the poverty line in the federal budget.

Details of the economic inclusion committee revealed

During social services estimates yesterday, the department tabled the details for the economic inclusion committee, which has been set up to review the adequacy of social services payments ahead of each budget. The committee can make recommendations, but the government does not have to take those recommendations up.

According to the tabled document, the committee will consider and provide advice and proposals on:

a) Economic inclusion, including approaches to boost participation through policy settings, systems and structures, in the social security system and other government programs and policies

b) The adequacy, effectiveness and sustainability of income support payments, including options to boost economic inclusion and tackle disadvantage

c) Options to reduce barriers and disincentives to work, including in relation to social security and employment services

d) Options for tailored responses to address barriers to economic inclusion for long-term unemployed and disadvantaged groups, including place-based approaches at the local level

e) The impact of economic inclusion policies on gender equality, including consideration of work being undertaken by the women’s economic equality taskforce

f) The trends of inequality markers in Australia and any other relevant advice

The committee’s report to government should include supporting discussion and analysis. In providing advice on these matters, the committee will have regard to the government’s fiscal strategy, existing policies and the long-term sustainability of the social security system.

The committee’s report to government should include supporting discussion and analysis. In providing advice on these matters, the committee will have regard to the government’s fiscal strategy, existing policies and the long-term sustainability of the social security system.

Where the parties stand

So the Greens are pushing hard against new coal and gas but have not indicated they are willing to kill off the legislation.

The government is saying it won’t move on that line but it does see some wriggle room.

So there is plenty of room left in this one – there is no imminent vote in the Senate, but this can not drag on forever.

Chris Bowen on what the government is willing to negotiate on:

We’re willing to negotiate on everything that we consider will be in keeping with our government’s approach and our election mandate. Nothing more, nothing less. We went to the people seeking a mandate. That’s what we will implement.

So Chris Bowen’s line here is “we’ll do anything for safeguards, but we won’t do that”.

‘We will get things done’

Chris Bowen is taking a conciliatory tone in this interview.

Chris Bowen at question time
Chris Bowen at question time. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Asked if Labor is willing to see the legislation fall over, if it won’t meet the Greens’ “no new coal, no new gas” line, Bowen says:

Well, I don’t believe it’ll get to that point.

I welcome Adam’s confirmation this morning, in his words that this is an offer, not an ultimatum.

I think that’s the spirit in which they should be approached. That’s the spirit in which it should be dealt with.

And that’s the spirit in which we’ve dealt with everything in the climate change space since last May.

I mean, this is a common situation. I’ve come on this show. And you said to me, Chris, you’re not going to get your climate change bill through because the Liberal side goes too far and the Green side doesn’t go far enough.

And I say we’re a government of adults, mature people working in good faith across the parliament.

We will get things done. Same with our EV tax cut. It didn’t originally have support. Same with our energy bill relief package. It originally didn’t have the numbers. We worked through it.

We get it done …

I would be astounded if the Senate with the numbers that it has … would say no to the biggest emissions reduction, the only chance for big emissions reduction from our big industrial emitters.

Bowen on breakfast radio

Chris Bowen is about to deliver his message for the day on ABC radio RN Breakfast.

It will all be about the safeguards mechanism. The Greens say their “no new coal or gas projects” isn’t an ultimatum but an offer to the government.

Bowen says:

We won’t be doing that.

Good morning

A very big thank you to Martin for kicking us off today.

Welcome to parliament Thursday – it’s the last sitting day of this first fortnight and while there is no legislation being passed (the Senate is tied up in estimates) there are all sorts of negotiations going on.

The safeguard mechanism. The national reconstruction fund. The affordable housing fund. It’s all happening.

You’ll have Katharine Murphy, Paul Karp, Josh Butler and Paul Karp to take you though it, with me, Amy Remeikis, on the blog for most of the day.

It’s going to be at least a four-coffee day. I have two running at once.

Ready?

Let’s get into it.

Plastic pollution

About two-thirds of the rubbish volunteers plucked from the environment last year was plastic, a jump of almost 20% in one year, Australian Associated Press reports.

Clean Up Australia’s national rubbish report for 2022, released today, says 366,144 pieces of rubbish were picked up by the organisation’s volunteers last year. Of those, 63% was plastic of some sort.

That’s up 17% on 2021, driven by a rise in finds of soft plastic, hard plastic and polystyrene.

Soft plastics topped the list at 18%, followed by cigarette butts at 14%. Then came single-use plastic bottles, takeaway food containers, drink cans, and pieces of glass and plastic packaging at 5% to 6% each.

The top 10 were rounded out by chips and lolly bags, bottle caps and lids, and face masks – counted for the first time in this report – at 3%.

Volunteers found about one-third of what they recovered on roadsides and footpaths, one-third in waterways and 20% in parks.

Queensland bushfires rage on

Efforts to contain bushfires in Queensland’s Western Downs have stretched into a fourth day with emergency warnings in place for residents north of the town of Miles, Australian Associated Press reports

Residents of Kowguran and Guluguba were told to prepare to leave last night as a large, fast-moving fire travelled from Welshs Road and L Tree Creek Road towards the Leichhardt Highway.

The Queensland Fire and Emergency Service warned conditions could get worse quickly.

Multiple warnings were also in place for Myall Park and Hookswood.

Martin Farrer

Martin Farrer

Toowoomba residents vent anger about crime

Youth crime is a huge issue in Queensland and last night police minister Mark Ryan, youth minister Leanne Linard and the state’s police commissioner Katarina Carroll attended a community forum in Toowoomba’s Armitage Centre to hear the concerns of locals.

A concerned citizen asks a question during a youth crime community forum in Toowoomba
A concerned citizen asks a question during a youth crime community forum in Toowoomba. Photograph: Dan Peled/The Guardian

A packed audience told harrowing stories about crime levels and called on the ministers and police chief to take action, some admitting that they had considered vigilante action themselves.

Eden Gillespie was there for Guardian Australia and has the full story:

Welcome

Martin Farrer

Martin Farrer

Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of what promises to be another lively day in Canberra and beyond. I’m Martin Farrer and I’ll bring you some of the main overnight stories before Amy Remeikis takes over.

The big political question question is whether the Greens will back the government’s reform of the safeguard mechanism to help reduce industry emissions. Tanya Plibersek says Greens voters would be shocked if the party goes ahead with its threat to “sabotage” the government’s plan and votes alongside the Coalition to torpedo the scheme. The Greens, who want the government to ditch all coal and gas projects in exchange for their support, say their stance is more an offer than an ultimatum.

We’re setting the news agenda today with an excellent investigation that shows the number of Australians who are fully bulk-billed by their GP has dropped significantly in just three years, with one electorate experiencing a decline of 18%. A former senior federal health official says the data shows that where you live matters but also that bulk-billing practices can be successful.

Australians would be able to opt out of targeted ads, erase their data and sue for serious breaches of privacy, under a proposal to be unveiled today by attorney general Mark Dreyfus. He will argue that our privacy laws have not kept pace with the changes in the digital world and need reform.

And two miners were missing in Queensland after their ute plunged into a huge hole after a “ground collapse”. The accident happened at Dugald River near Mount Isa yesterday. Drones are being used to find the men and we’ll keep you updated with the search effort.

With all that, let’s get going …



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