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Australia news live: Dan Tehan says anti-corruption body will be a ‘knackery’; national cabinet to review Covid isolation

Key events

Stephanie Convery

Private rental market ‘the epicentre’ of Australia’s housing affordability problem, report finds

A $1.6bn agreement to help facilitate affordable housing in Australia has failed to reduce inequity and national reform is now imperative, the Productivity Commission has found.

The commission on Friday released the findings of its review into the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA), the key document that governs federal funding to the states for housing services. The sharply worded report urges the government to overhaul commonwealth rent assistance, focus on fixing the rental crisis, and wind back concessions and grants for homebuyers in favour of funding stretched homelessness services.

National Cabinet meeting to consider Covid public health settings

Josh Butler

Josh Butler

State and territory leaders will meet in-person in Canberra on Friday, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to convene the latest national cabinet meeting. Covid health briefings will again be high on the agenda, with discussion expected around public health settings for the virus.

NSW premier Dominic Perrottet has long called for mandatory Covid isolation periods to be scrapped. Recent national cabinet meetings have rebuffed those calls, but after the last meeting in mid-September, Albanese said Friday’s meeting would “have a discussion about future arrangements… what we are seeing is gradually a move towards Covid being treated like other health issues.”

That last meeting also locked in an agreement for the pandemic leave disaster payment, to support those isolating without sick leave, to remain available for as long as mandatory isolation periods are applied.

Friday’s meeting will also discuss the budget positions of the Commonwealth and state governments, as well as receive a briefing from the Bureau of Meteorology and the National Emergency Management Australia (Nema) body on the coming La Nina weather season.

Good morning!

Leaders will consider scrapping Covid-19 isolation rules when they meet as part of national cabinet today.

The New South Wales premier, Dominic Perrottet, is pushing to scrap mandatory isolation entirely, after the last national cabinet meeting saw the isolation period reduced from seven to five days.

The state and territory leaders will also be briefed by the new emergency management agency on the threat of storms and flooding as the country heads into its third La Niña summer.

This week the government released its highly anticipated national integrity commission legislation, but one of the details that has come under the fire is how often hearings will be public.

Crossbenchers have raised concerns the “exceptional circumstances” threshold for public hearings is too high but the government says closed hearings would be the default.

The opposition leader, Peter Dutton, said he doesn’t want public hearings to become “show trials” and believes the government has the balance right.

However, the shadow minister for immigration and citizenship, Dan Tehan, isn’t convinced.

Playing on its acronym, NACC, Tehan expressed concern the integrity commission “will become a knackery” in a tweet sharing the Australian columnist Henry Ergas’s article drawing comparisons with the Salem witch trials.

To give a flavour of the article, Ergas begins with saying “what was new about the Salem witch trials was that they were held in public”. It concludes that “no self-respecting Australian government ought to permit a form of lynch justice” but that had “the Greens and the teals … been at Salem, they would have been rushing forward with the matches.”

Let’s get going!

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