Australia news live updates: governor general apologises for photo with builder; Barilaro job hearings to start

Governor general apologises for promoting builder

Josh Butler

The governor general, David Hurley, has apologised for a decision made “on the spur of a happy moment” to pose for a photo with a builder who completed his home renovation, which was later used in the company’s advertising material.

News.com.au reported on Tuesday that Hurley had been quoted in testimonials on the social media pages and website of luxury builder Homes By Howe, which carried out renovations to the governor general’s private home.

“We’re really delighted with the outcome and end product,” the governor general says in the testimonial.

Following backlash upon the news report’s publication, and questions reportedly being raised by the Albanese government, Hurley issued a statement of apology on Wednesday morning:

Regarding media reports on the renovation of my private house. I made a mistake by agreeing, on the spur of a happy moment, to express my appreciation for the builder in a video and photos. I apologise for my mistake.

I received no benefit of any kind for my participation. My words were not intended to be used in direct commercial advertising and reference to my appointment was not to be made. Nevertheless, I should have checked that my guidance was accurately followed. I have asked the builder to remove all material related to my comments.

The parliamentary inquiry into the appointment of a former New South Wales deputy premier John Barilaro as the state’s trade commissioner to the United States has just begun.

My colleague Mick McGowan will be sending updates throughout the morning, so stay tuned – we’ll have all the developments on that soon.

Victoria’s pharmacy students and interns were an “untapped resource” before the pandemic hit, and pharmacists say they should be allowed to vaccinate people on a permanent basis, AAP reports.

Fourth-year students and interns were called on to bolster Victoria’s Covid-19 vaccination efforts as part of a “surge workforce” under the Andrews’ government’s public health emergency orders.

Earlier this month, their involvement was extended to administering flu jabs under supervision.

But when the orders expire – potentially in July for COVID-19 and in September for flu – they will not be allowed to keep vaccinating Victorians.

Monash University senior lecturer and pharmacist Steven Walker said there is a big opportunity for their continued involvement in community vaccination.

Walker hopes the Victorian government might consider changing legislation so students and interns can continue vaccinating people:

Currently in Victoria, only pharmacists are permitted to do formalised training to become accredited immunisers.

That’s different to other states [where] students and interns are able to complete such courses and be recognised as accredited immunisers.

Given the government’s been encouraging people to get the influenza vaccine with the recent changes in eligibility for free vaccines, there was a huge amount of workload for those community [pharmacies].

Our hope is that, if we can prove that the students and interns can do it, why not just keep it going?

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia agrees students and interns who have done the required training should continue vaccinating people under supervision, arguing it would help the already stretched health system and could improve retention rates.

Blockade Australia taking day to ‘rest and regroup’

There were no Blockade Australia protests in the Sydney CBD this morning, despite the climate crisis activists having planned a week of action, as the protesters took a day off to “rest and regroup”.

Organisers posted a message to their Telegram channel on Tuesday saying there would be no protests on Wednesday, AAP reports.

NSW Police have arrested 21 activists over the past two days, with 11 arrested on Tuesday and 10 on Monday at demonstrations across the city.

About 40 people marched from Sydney’s Hyde Park up William Street towards the inner east yesterday morning.

On Monday, about 50 people took part in a march through the CBD. One of those arrested included a 22-year-old woman who locked herself to the steering wheel of a car, blocking traffic access to the Sydney Harbour Tunnel.

Protesters who disrupt major roadways, ports and railways in NSW can now be charged with newly-legislated penalties of up to two years in prison and a fine of $22,000.

Passport office queues: still not getting better.

Governor general apologises for promoting builder

Josh Butler

The governor general, David Hurley, has apologised for a decision made “on the spur of a happy moment” to pose for a photo with a builder who completed his home renovation, which was later used in the company’s advertising material.

News.com.au reported on Tuesday that Hurley had been quoted in testimonials on the social media pages and website of luxury builder Homes By Howe, which carried out renovations to the governor general’s private home.

“We’re really delighted with the outcome and end product,” the governor general says in the testimonial.

Following backlash upon the news report’s publication, and questions reportedly being raised by the Albanese government, Hurley issued a statement of apology on Wednesday morning:

Regarding media reports on the renovation of my private house. I made a mistake by agreeing, on the spur of a happy moment, to express my appreciation for the builder in a video and photos. I apologise for my mistake.

I received no benefit of any kind for my participation. My words were not intended to be used in direct commercial advertising and reference to my appointment was not to be made. Nevertheless, I should have checked that my guidance was accurately followed. I have asked the builder to remove all material related to my comments.

A little delay on Victoria’s Covid numbers this morning.

There is a delay in this morning’s COVID-19 update. We will share the update as soon as possible.

— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) June 28, 2022

NSW records 11 deaths from Covid-19 with 1,526 people in hospital

There were 11,067 new cases recorded in the last 24 hour reporting period. There are 40 people with Covid in intensive care in the state.

COVID-19 update – Wednesday 29 June 2022

In the 24-hour reporting period to 4pm yesterday:

– 96.6% of people aged 16+ have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
– 95.1% of people aged 16+ have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine pic.twitter.com/1UzQ2YiLOH

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) June 28, 2022

Daniel Hurst

Turnbull says Albanese ‘is not Scott Morrison and that’s a big advantage’

Australia’s new prime minister will have an easier time mending relations with the French “because he is not Scott Morrison and that’s a big advantage”, the former leader Malcolm Turnbull has told journalists in Paris.

Turnbull said Anthony Albanese, who will meet the French president in Paris on Friday, was honest and “never had a reputation for being deceitful and untruthful”.

This would help in thawing the freeze in relations between Canberra and Paris that followed Morrison cancelling a A$90bn (£48bn) submarine deal with French defence contractor Naval Group last September.

The new Australian Labor government remains committed to acquiring nuclear-powered submarines under the Aukus agreement with the US and the UK – the decision at the heart of the rift with France.

It is understood to be working to a March deadline to make major decisions on how and when those submarines will be built, along with any interim solution to bridge a “capability gap” in the nation’s defences.

Read the full story here:

Political representation for the ACT may increase post-census

Did you note amid all the stories about the census data on Tuesday that the population of the ACT had grown significantly?

Well, the Australian Capital Territory’s chief minister, Andrew Barr, told my colleagues Paul Karp and Josh Butler that there might be a case for an increase in the territory’s political representation: a “modest increase” from two senators to four “may be appropriate” for the territories, he said.

Since his election in May, the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has stressed the importance of “one vote, one value” on several occasions, raising expectations that boosting the number of territory senators and mainland MPs could be part of a suite of reforms to be considered in a parliamentary inquiry into electoral law.

The census data shows the ACT has a population of 454,499, compared with Tasmania’s 557,571. The ACT is represented by two senators, while all states including Tasmania are represented by 12.

In the House of Representatives, the ACT is represented by three MPs.

Read more about the data and the complications of the proposal here:

PM to meet with world leaders during Nato summit

Anthony Albanese is holding talks with a bunch of international leaders ahead of and during the Nato summit this week, including New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea. He will also sit down with the British prime minister, Boris Johnson.

Later this week, Albanese is flying to Paris to meet with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, in which he’s expected to try to mend the rift between Australia and France in the wake of the Morrison government jettisoning the $90bn submarine deal last year.

Albanese is yet to confirm whether he will visit Ukraine, following an invitation by the president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to travel to Kyiv, with security assessments still underway – it’s reportedly a 50/50 chance at this stage.

Albanese to speak on Australia’s ‘iron-clad’ commitment to global order

The prime minister Anthony Albanese is going to give a speech in Madrid today in which he’ll spotlight Australia’s “iron-clad” commitment to upholding the global order, AAP reports.

In an address to a Nato Public Forum event, Albanese is expected to say that under the Labor government, Australia will defend values respecting international laws and territorial integrity.

AAP have supplied some advance lines from his speech:

By supporting peace and sovereignty in Europe, we are underscoring our iron-clad commitment to these norms in our own region, the Indo-Pacific.

We recognise there is strategic competition in our region, and Australia is not afraid to stand up with all the countries of our region for an open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific.

It will be through Australia’s actions that you will see our resolve.

We will deal with this issue in a mature way, with firmness and resolution.

Albanese is also expected to praise Nato alliance members for their “inspiring” responses to Russia after its “brutal” and “unjustified” invasion of Ukraine, and the alliance Australia is “invested for the long-term” in the Nato relationship.

Josh Taylor

Josh Taylor

Uber and Transport Workers’ Union strike agreement on gig economy employment standards

Ride-sharing giant Uber and the Transport Workers’ Union have struck a landmark agreement on proposed employment standards and benefits ahead of expected new gig economy regulation from the Albanese government.

The union and Uber have also agreed to jointly support the creation of a new independent government-funded regulatory body to create industry-wide standards for rideshare and food delivery gig workers, following months of negotiations.

Under the agreed standards, the body will be responsible for creating minimum and transparent enforceable earnings, benefits and conditions for people who work on the rideshare platform. The body will also act as a means for resolving disputes over platform employment issues, such as when a worker’s account is deactivated.

The standards also outline that the rights of workers to join and be represented by a union will be respected.

The Transport Workers’ Union national secretary, Michael Kaine, told Guardian Australia:

It is quite a remarkable document. It’s a remarkable set of principles.

It’s something that identifies that we need change, and there is a pathway to change, and we’ve got a new federal government that’s indicated that it wants to act in this area as well. So the stars are aligning for us all.

Read the full story here:

Luke Henriques-Gomes

Luke Henriques-Gomes

The number of social housing units in Australia rose by less than 1% last year and actually went backwards in some states, while waiting lists across the country blew out further and rental stress among jobseekers receiving rent assistance doubled.

As the new Albanese government seeks to increase social housing stock nationally, a report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) on Wednesday showed demand for housing support continues to outstrip supply.

The data released with the AIHW report showed social housing – public housing and properties leased out by community housing providers – was stuck at 4.2% of overall housing stock.

That was steady from 2020 and down on the 2012 figure of 4.8%.

Read more:

Mark Dreyfus clarifies Labor’s opposition to ‘unnecessary secrecy’

Paul Karp

Paul Karp

After the first national cabinet meeting as prime minister, Anthony Albanese, revealed the commonwealth had made no effort to change its rules of secrecy, despite his criticism of his predecessor Scott Morrison over the issue.

On Tuesday evening, the attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, clarified that the government’s position is that it is not in favour of “unnecessary secrecy” but it still intends to block documents from freedom of information using exemption.

Dreyfus told Radio National’s Law Report:

There’s a convention that applies to the cabinet papers of former governments, which is that they remain the cabinet papers of former governments and not available for public distribution. And by and large observing that convention, we will continue to apply whatever settings the former government had in place.

But going forward, very much, it’s our view that the meetings of First Ministers are ones that, if there is a need to provide protection from [FOI] applications, then the exemptions in the [FOI] Act that have been there since the first enactment … in 1982, which protect commonwealth-state relations that those exemptions are the ones which should be relied on. What we don’t want to see is the creation of unnecessary secrecy.

What we don’t want to see is reliance on an exemption that applies to the meetings of federal cabinet incorrectly applied to meetings between First Ministers of the states, territories and the Commonwealth.

While it’s good to see that the Albanese government is not persisting with the fiction that national cabinet is a sub-committee of the federal cabinet, it still sounds like no documents will be produced.

SA power operator fined $900,000 for breach

The operator of South Australia’s Tesla big battery has been fined $900,000 after a software glitch left it unable to help stabilise the grid, AAP reports.

Hornsdale Power Reserve (HPR) was ordered on Tuesday to pay the penalty after being taken to the federal court by the Australian Energy Regulator.

The court heard HPR had breached national electricity rules between July and November 2019 after it made offers to the Australian Energy Market Operator and was paid to provide market ancillary services which it could not provide.

The contingency frequency control ancillary services are required to help keep the lights on following a power system disturbance.

Aemo brought the conduct to the regulator’s attention following a power system disruption at Kogan Creek Power Station in Queensland in October 2019.

The disruption was not caused or contributed to by HPR.

Tesla car charging stations near Jamestown, South Australia.
Tesla car charging stations near Jamestown, South Australia. Photograph: Morgan Sette/AAP

An investigation by Tesla later identified a firmware update carried out in July as the cause of HPR’s failure to provide its promised services.

Justice Anthony Besanko on Tuesday ordered HPR to pay a $900,000 fine in regards to several breaches of the national electricity rules.

He acknowledged submissions from HPR that the contraventions were inadvertent and the relevant payments had been repaid to AEMO upon request. No actual loss or damage was caused by the breaches, he noted.

The AER’s chair, Clare Savage, said in a statement the penalty sent an important message to the market at a time when many new operators were joining the grid:

It is vital that generators do what they say they can do if we’re going to keep the lights on through our market’s rapid transition to more variable renewable generation.

Morning summary

Good morning folks, and welcome to another day of rolling news.

Australia’s fractured relationship with France has caused a “critical” trade deal with the EU to “stall” over perceptions Australia isn’t “fair dinkum” on climate change action, Anthony Albanese has said. The prime minister is in Europe this week ahead of the Nato summit which will consider further sanctions on Russian for its continuing war on Ukraine. He’s been meeting with various international counterparts on his trip, including Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, on Tuesday.

The federal energy minister, Chris Bowen, will give an address at the National Press Club today in which he’s expected to talk about the government’s renewable energy plan in the wake of coal-fired power station shutdowns, a cold snap and spiking gas prices adding to cost of living pressures for already-squeezed Australian households.

Industrial action in NSW continues, with the Rail, Tram and Bus Union to meet today to consider whether to continue with their planned strikes this week. They are in a dispute with the NSW government over safety concerns regarding the new intercity train fleet.

Meanwhile, hundreds of nurses voted on Tuesday to continue with industrial action, rejecting the NSW government’s offer of a 3% pay rise. The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association general secretary, Brett Holmes, said members will now pursue a pay rise of 7%.

And a parliamentary inquiry will today scrutinise the appointment of the former NSW deputy premier John Barilaro to a lucrative trade job in New York.

There’ll be stacks more throughout the day so stay tuned. And as always, if you see something you reckon needs my attention, you can email me at stephanie.convery@theguardian.com or ping me on Twitter @gingerandhoney.

Onward!



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