Australia politics live updates: Albanese feeling ‘really good’ on first day out of isolation; Deves denies she’s transphobic; 14 Covid deaths

We then move on to a debate about the debates.

Q: Mr Chalmers, both yourself, Mr Albanese and Kristina Keneally have accused the Prime Minister of going missing, saying that he’s avoiding scrutiny. You said these words just a moment or so ago yourself, sir. But your leader, despite having said he would debate the Prime Minister every day…[has not agreed to a debate on Nine] isn’t he doing what you accuse the prime minister of doing??

Jim Chalmers:

Well, Anthony Albanese is not reluctant to debate the Prime Minister, and the last time they had a debate, Albo cleaned him up.

Q: Why not commit to…

Chalmers:

If you just let me finish my answer. There are negotiations that happen in every election campaign that I can recall. Those negotiations involve broadcasters, they involve the two parties…

Q: You say the Prime Minister won’t hold a hose, but at the minute you won’t hold a debate.

Chalmers:

Well, what’s happening here is the usual negotiation that is happen in the usual way with the broadcasters, and with the major political parties. You know, I think…

Q: Everyone has agreed except Anthony Albanese. Why?

Chalmers:

Well, this is part of the usual conversation that happens.

Q: What is he scared of? What is Mr Albanese scared of?

Chalmers:

He’s not.

Q: What is he doing next Thursday?

Chalmers:

I don’t have his diary here.

The questions start and they are all about why Anthony Albanese is not fronting the press conference.

Q: When the prime minister came out of isolation, he flew to Lismore and he did a press conference. Why is Anthony Albanese not doing a press conference today? And you’ve made reference, Kristina Keneally has made reference to the document behind you. What are all of those things? What’s the percentage that those things are going to come down if Labor is elected into government?

Jim Chalmers:

Well, first of all, Anthony Albanese is returning to the fray today, and we’re very pleased that our captain will be back on the field with us. And consistent with doctor’s orders, he is coming back, making sure that he can do enough on the first day back, and then we’re heading out to the great state of Western Australia after that.

Q: Why is he not fronting the media in an official capacity on his first day out of isolation?

Chalmers:

Anthony has fronted the media this morning.

Q: Nine was left off the list? There are still plenty of people that he’s not talking to, plenty of journalists who aren’t able to ask questions of Anthony Albanese today.

Chalmers:

Well, the campaign has still got three weeks to run. Anthony Albanese’s done a heap of interviews this morning and he will have a heap of engagements out west as well, consistent with the health advice.

Q: Doesn’t that contrast with the prime minister, however, who did come out of isolation and held a press conference when he came out of isolation?

Chalmers:

I’ll tell you the contrast with the prime minister. Anthony Albanese, he shows up, he takes responsibility, he works hard every day to bring people together. And he acknowledges and has a plan for the cost of living crisis that has emerged on Scott Morrison’s watch.

Q: If he could do those breakfast interviews this morning, why couldn’t he come to an official press conference?

Chalmers:

He will have a number of media engagements over the coming days.

Jim Chalmers moves on to cost of living being an issue and says Australians “couldn’t give a stuff” about international comparisons on inflation given prices here are increasing.

He says that Josh Frydenberg had a “train wreck” interview on Radio National this morning and the government is blaming everyone but itself for cost increases.

In that interview, he lied about the impacts of the withdrawal of the low and middle income tax offset. He confirmed that he will be preferencing One Nation in his electorate.

He dismissed a woman who is a very accomplished part of the medical profession as nothing more than a slogan. But he also tried to wash his hands of this cost of living crisis that has emerged on the Morrison government’s watch.

The independent Reserve Bank will make its decision on interest rates, independent of any political interference from the treasurer or from anyone else. The treasurer and the prime minister need to take responsibility for what’s happening in the Australian economy. When things are going well, they take all the credit. When times are tough, they take absolutely none of the responsibility, and we’re seeing that once again.

Leadership is about taking responsibility, and that’s where Scott Morrison disappoints again and again.

Labor press conference

Jim Chalmers and Kristina Keneally are up this morning.

Chalmers says leadership is about trusting your team – and Anthony Albanese can do that.

It’s about putting people at the absolute centre of your vision for a stronger economy and a better future. Leadership is also about building a team, empowering your people, and trusting them to do their jobs.

I’ve had the opportunity to speak to Albo a couple of times today, before and after he reentered the fray, and I was able to express to him our gratitude on behalf of the team for the opportunities and the trust that he has placed in us while he’s been away with Covid.

You may remember Tim Wilson had a very big issue with independent challenger Zoe Daniel’s corflutes because they were put up before the election was called, and asked his supporters to dob in any they saw to the local council.

Well, Dave Sharma has had an issue with independent challenger Allegra Spender’s corflutes and where they are being placed.

Apparently, corflutes are the biggest issue this election campaign. Apologies for missing it. Corflutes are obviously impacting more people than we knew, given the focus.

Laws and guidance clear.

Two weeks to abide.

Promises to do so.

Refuses to do so.

Blames others.

Integrity?

This is what happens when your campaign is run by GetUp activists. pic.twitter.com/M9naxQZo7n

— Dave Sharma (@DaveSharma) April 28, 2022

We will have more for you on this soon, but the Quarterly Energy Dynamics Report has been released – and you can add power to the list of things increasing in price.

As AAP reports:

Wholesale electricity prices for industry and large businesses have breached the federal government’s promised level, adding another cost pressure to the economy.

The Australian Energy Market Operator said on Friday that prices in the national electricity market averaged $87 per megawatt-hour in the first three months of this year, up more than two thirds on the December quarter and up 141 per cent on the March quarter of 2021.

Wholesale electricity prices have increased in every region, the Quarterly Energy Dynamics Report found.

Outages meant the availability of thermal generators was significantly lower, with black coal electricity generation at its lowest quarterly level since 2002.

AEMO executive Violette Mouchaileh said prices in Queensland and NSW, the most dependent on coal-fired generation, were again significantly higher than southern states.

“This was due to the larger price-setting role of black coal generation and system security constraints limiting daytime electricity transfers from Victoria into NSW,” she said.

Wind and solar farm output hit a new quarterly record, along with increases in small-scale solar, gas and hydro.

Declines were seen in brown coal and black coal generation, which hit its lowest March quarter average in two decades.

Despite increased demand for electricity as heatwaves struck, NEM emissions hit a record March quarter low at 30.4 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent – four per cent lower than a year earlier.

Lower coal generation combined with continuing growth in wind and solar farm output, the report said.

Energy market expert Tristan Edis said wholesale power prices have risen because Australia is too exposed to volatile international commodity markets, not because it has too much renewable energy in the grid.

“The federal government hasn’t managed to achieve its promise from the last election to bring wholesale power prices below $70MWh,” he said.

Oil, coal and LNG prices surged globally amid winter energy shortages and conflict in Europe.

Marija Petcovich, head of analytics firm Energy Synapse, said Australia will be vulnerable to price shocks as long as the grid remains reliant on fossil fuels.

AAP has an update on the pending aged care workers strike:

The aged care workforce has voted for a national strike in the middle of the federal election campaign in a push for better pay and conditions.

The May 10 strike, less than two weeks out from the election, was endorsed by union leaders from aged care providers on Wednesday night, with the United Workers Union saying members are fighting for better pay and conditions.

It’s the first time the aged care work force has embarked on a national strike, with the union expressing anger at Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The decision was made the day after the Health Services Union began their legal fight to lift aged care workers’ wages to about $29 per hour, or by 25 per cent, in the Fair Work Commission.

Some 12,000 aged care workers are expected to walk off the job from eight major care care providers at 160 facilities, affecting 12,700 residents.

The workers are taking the unprecedented step of striking because their pay and conditions are failing workers and residents, UWU Aged Care Director Carolyn Smith said on Friday.

“Aged care workers are fed up with waiting, fed up with Scott Morrison’s incompetence and fed up with employers’ excuses,” she said.

“On Wednesday we gave thousands of heartbreaking reports from our whistleblower web site www.agedcarewatch.org.au, describing aged care residents left unshowered, soiled and injured due to a lack of care, to the aged care regulator.”

She said these reports were filed after the Royal Commission into Aged Care, and the federal government’s budget response.

The Royal Commission noted the sector’s workforce was undervalued, understaffed and under-resourced.

The McKell Institute has released a new report, and has found the sharpest decline in real wages in Australia is being experienced by those in WA and Queensland:

The new report, ‘Stuck in Neutral: The Policy Architecture Driving Slow Wage Growth in Australia,’ finds that in 2021 Australia experienced a fall in real wages of 1.2 per cent.

However there is a high degree of variability between the states, with wages falling by 1.9 per cent in Queensland and a massive 3.7 per cent in WA.

The analysis also finds the average worker would be earning an additional $307 per week if the rate of wage growth in the period 2007-2013 had been sustained through 2014-2021.

The McKell Institute’s executive director, Michael Buckland, said without a change in policy settings, it would only get worse:

Slow wage growth is an economic problem created in part by deliberate government policy. As the Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann, said in 2019 low wage growth is a deliberate design feature of the Coalition’s economic architecture.

The report’s press release added:

Our report finds there have been a range of policies that have contributed to low wage growth including a reduction in penalty rates, a surge in temporary work visas, and inaction on wage theft. Opposition to increases in minimum wages, public sector wage freezes, and allowing the exemption of the unregulated gig economy have also been identified as contributors.

Remedying sustained low wage growth requires substantial change in Federal Government policy.

Anthony Albanese and the Labor campaign are headed west for the official campaign launch on Sunday.

We are expecting a press conference from him today, though.

Seven Covid deaths reported in NSW, another seven in Victoria

The Covid reports have started coming in.

COVID-19 update – Friday 29 April 2022

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

– 96.2% of people aged 16+ have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
– 94.7% of people aged 16+ have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine pic.twitter.com/9jxVcPzPLU

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) April 28, 2022

Sarah Ferguson has been announced as Leigh Sales’s replacement as the host of 7.30.



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