Election 2022 live: Penny Wong to travel to Fiji; ‘substantial progress’ in efforts to return Murugappan family to Biloela

Dai Le insists she can sit as MP after eligibility questioned

Paul Karp

Dai Le, the independent leading the count in the New South Wales seat of Fowler, has insisted she is eligible to sit in parliament, after a news report and social media users questioned her citizenship.

Le disclosed to the Australian Electoral Commission that her mother was born in Vietnam, but indicated she didn’t know the citizenship of her father.

She declared she had never been a citizen of a foreign country, despite coming to Australia as a refugee from Vietnam at age 11.

Le posted on Facebook:

This morning there have been extensive media enquiries in relation to my eligibility to satisfy Section 44 of the Australian Constitution to stand for election.

I can confirm that the AEC accepted my application to stand for the federal election and that I’m not a subject or a citizen of another country, and was not when I lodged my nomination form with the AEC prior to the close of the nomination.

It’s important to note that the AEC does not conduct inquiries into candidates’ eligibility, so the AEC accepting a nomination in itself doesn’t say anything about eligibility, as the many MPs disqualified in the 45th parliament can testify.

Anyone who wants to dispute an election result or a candidate’s eligibility has 40 days from the return of the writ to do so.

Guardian Australia contacted Le for comment.

Dai Le
Dai Le: ‘I’m not a subject or a citizen of another country.’ Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP

Eligibility for fourth dose of Covid vaccine expanded

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (Atagi) has expanded the recommendations on the use of the fourth dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

The new advice recommends a winter Covid booster for people aged 16 to 64 who have a medical condition that increases the risk of severe Covid illness, and people with a disability with significant or complex health needs or multiple comorbidities.

Atagi said healthy people aged 16 to 64 who do not have risk factors for severe Covid are not recommended to receive an additional winter dose at this time.

In March, Atagi recommended the fourth Covid dose for people aged over 65, residents of aged care or disability care facilities, immunocompromised people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years or above.

Jim Chalmers says work is under way to return Murugappan family to Biloela

The new Labor government says it has made “substantial progress” since being sworn in on Monday in its efforts to return the Murugappan family to Biloela, and has foreshadowed a further announcement on the issue “very, very soon”.

The family of asylum seekers were taken from their home in the Queensland town four years ago and placed in immigration detention. The Coalition did not heed calls from the community in Biloela to allow them to return, however Labor had indicated it would intervene to grant the family a visa if it won the election.

The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, who is also the interim home affairs minister as the Labor cabinet is being formed, said he had “made some substantial progress on this in the last day or two”.

I hope to have a conversation with the prime minister when he returns from his international trip and obviously there are a series of steps that I would need to appropriately take in order to give effect to our long-held view that that family must get home to Biloela, to the warm embrace of one of the most wonderful Queensland towns.

If you will forgive me a moment of parochialism as a Queenslander born and bred, I am so sick and tired of Queensland being caricatured as a certain way when it comes to some of these issues.

It warms the heart to see the way that that town of Biloela has gotten around this beautiful family and campaigned long and hard for this family to be returned to their home in Biloela where they are making such a terrific contribution to the local community.

I have made some progress on this. I have received advice that I sought almost immediately having been appointed the interim minister for home affairs. I hope to be able to announce progress on this case very, very soon.

Removing trade protections would be first step to improving China-Australia relations, Chalmers says

Jim Chalmers said a good first step to repairing relations with China would be for Beijing to remove trade protections it had introduced in recent years.

Chalmers said he wouldn’t be making significant foreign policy changes just yet, but added:

China has become more aggressive and more assertive and our responsibility as the incoming Government is to manage that complex relationship in a considered and sober fashion.

If there is to be an improvement in relations it makes sense to us for the first part of that, the first step, to be the removal of some of those sanctions and tariffs which are doing damage to our economy and to our employers and exporters. That would be a good place to start.

Peter Dutton becoming Liberal leader would be ‘last man standing situation’, incoming Labor cabinet ministers say

Peter Dutton’s ascension to head of the Liberal party and the next opposition leader would be the result of a “last man standing situation” and would show the Liberal party “learned absolutely nothing” from their election loss, according to incoming Labor cabinet ministers.

The finance minister, Katy Gallagher, said:

It’s sort of a last-man-standing situation isn’t it? But also if Peter Dutton is the answer then it’s not entirely clear that they heard the questions that were raised during this election campaign.

The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, said:

I think Peter Dutton’s elevation would show they have learned absolutely nothing from the drubbing they got on Saturday. Peter Dutton has all of the same characteristics that people didn’t like, that they saw in Scott Morrison. I think we’re up for a very divided period when it comes to the Liberals and Nationals.

Penny Wong to travel to Fiji on Thursday

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

Australia’s foreign minister, Penny Wong, is planning to travel to Fiji tomorrow in an early statement of intent to deepen the relationship with Pacific countries.

It is understood Wong, who is currently flying home from the Quad summit in Tokyo, is intending to travel to Fiji tomorrow and is expected to have meetings with the prime minister and the foreign minister and female leaders.

Wong also intends to deliver a speech in Suva on Friday. Wong plans to travel widely in the Pacific in the lead-up to the Pacific Islands Forum in July.

The trip comes at a time when China’s foreign minister is also embarking on a major trip around the region, in a sign of the growing competition for influence in the Pacific.

Kate Lyons has the latest on China’s efforts:

New treasurer and finance minister looking for ways to cut costs from Morrison government policies

The new treasurer, Jim Chalmers, and finance minister, Katy Gallagher, have foreshadowed some potential areas of Morrison government policies and spending, such as multinational tax reform and spending on consultants, that they could look to undo as they search for cost-cutting measures.

Chalmers said:

When we released our costings less than a week ago we talked about the fact that we’d already found $11.5 billion in budget improvements, which is a good start when it comes to the task ahead of us. We can’t flick a switch and make $1 trillion of debt disappear but whether it is multinational tax reform, whether it is trimming spending on contractors and consultants, whether it is starting to unwind a decade of rorts and waste and mismanagement in the budget.

Gallagher said:

In the early briefings I’ve had I do think there’s opportunity to find further savings in the budget and we’ll be looking closely at that. It is early days but I think the commitments we made last Thursday in our costings document around returning the regionalisation fund and the unallocated money in the community development grants were sensible.

On my early briefings I’d say there weren’t too many fiscal rules in place in the final terms of this Government. So we do see large pockets of money being allocated places without a lot of detail and that’s certainly an area of significant interest for us.

We want to make sure that you don’t have $400 million buried somewhere without any business cases or any criteria around that money being spent just to be dolled out during the course of an electoral term, that is not appropriate and we won’t be doing that.

“We think it will take generations to pay down a generation of debt,” Chalmers adds.

New Labor government ‘inheriting a very serious set of economic and budget challenges’, Jim Chalmers says

The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, says his new Labor government is inheriting “substantial issues” related to debt, inflation and wages growth from the Coalition government, and is warning Australians there will be challenges in restoring the economy.

Chalmers, speaking amid days of departmental briefings for incoming government ministers, said he met with the heads of the Reserve Bank, Asic, Apra, the ATO and the ACCC on Wednesday morning, and said “we are inheriting a very serious set of economic and budget challenges”.

Chalmers said:

There is no use mincing words around … the serious nature of the economic challenges that the new Albanese Labor government is inheriting. The defining challenges in our economy are skyrocketing inflation, rising interest rates, fall in real wages and not having anywhere near enough to show for a budget which is absolutely heaving with trillion dollars in Liberal party debt.

We need to make sure we are upfront with the Australian people about the seriousness and the nature and the magnitude of the challenges that our new element is inheriting from our intercessors. No new government can flick a switch and make $1 trillion of debt disappear, flick a switch and completely fix overnight the substantial issues that we have with skyrocketing inflation and falling real wages.

Chalmers said he will give a “detailed statement” to the parliament when it returns “which is blunt and frank and upfront with the Australian people about the challenges we have inherited”.

On wages, Chalmers reiterated that his government will make a submission to the Fair Work Commission as part of its current process reviewing the minimum wage, and said:

I don’t think anybody in Australia, certainly no one at the Fair Work Commission, is under any doubt about our position and that is that people on the lowest wages in Australia deserve a decent pay rise which recognises the skyrocketing costs of living.

Gabrielle Chan

Gabrielle Chan

Rural News Corp paper in Victoria urges Barnaby Joyce and Nationals to concede climate change is real

An editorial in the Weekly Times has delivered a rare sharp rebuke to Barnaby Joyce post-election, urging him and the National party to concede climate change is real and will affect all parts of the country, not just “leafy suburbs” in the city.

Known as the “bible of the bush”, the Victoria-based News Corp newspaper dedicated to rural and particularly agricultural issues has accused Joyce of “not reading the play” from the weekend’s election results.

“The lessons for Joyce and co are right before their eyes with increased support for two of their own. Darren Chester in Gippsland and Kevin Hogan in Page, both of whom believe climate change is real,” the editorial says.

“The climate schism within the Nationals ranks is already playing out with rumblings of a break away from the Liberals and jockeying for party leadership positions.

“But what must happen first is a concession from the deniers that climate change is real and will affect all parts of the country, not just the leafy suburbs of Melbourne and other capital cities.”

Read more:

And with that, I will leave the blog in the capable hands of Elias Visontay for the rest of the day. Thanks for reading.

NSW Icac to investigate three southern Sydney councillors

AAP is reporting that the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption will hold a public inquiry to determine if three southern Sydney councillors took kickbacks to favour developments.

Operation Galley will investigate the conduct of former Georges River and Hurstville City councillors, Constantine Hindi and Vincenzo Badalati, as well as then Hurstville City councillor Philip Sansom.

In 2016, the former Kogarah and Hurstville city councils were merged to create Georges River council.

Icac is investigating whether, between 2014 and 2021, then Hurstville City council and later Georges River councillors Hindi and Badalati, and then Hurstville City councillor Sansom, “sought and/or accepted benefits as an inducement or reward for partially and dishonestly exercising their official functions” to favour certain developments.

Icac said on Wednesday it would determine if the trio favoured the interests of Ching Wah (Philip) Uy, Wensheng Liu and Yuqing Liu, in relation to planning that affected 1-5 Treacy Street and 1 Hill Road, Hurstville (“the Treacy Street development”), and 53-57 Forest Road, 108-126 Durham Street and 9 Roberts Lane, Hurstville (“the Landmark Square development”).

The commission will also examine whether the three councillors deliberately failed to declare or properly manage any conflict of interest arising from their relationships with Ching Wah Uy, Wensheng Liu and Yuqing Liu.

Hurstville City council is also investigating whether the developers provided benefits, including overseas flights and accommodation, to the councillors as a reward or inducement to favour their interests.

Commissioner Stephen Rushton SC will preside at the public inquiry and counsel assisting the commission will be Zelie Heger.

The inquiry will start on 14 June and is expected to take five weeks.

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

Analysis: how Australia’s new position on climate is being received

Some more reaction is rolling in after yesterday’s Quad summit in Tokyo. Interestingly, the Australian government won support from India, Japan and the US to include the following line in the joint leaders’ statement:

We welcome the new Australian Government’s commitment to stronger action on climate change, including through passing legislation to achieve net zero by 2050 and lodging a new, ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution.

Wesley Morgan, a Climate Council researcher and research fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute, said today that the Quad leaders’ summit was “the first of many important steps on the road to repairing Australia’s international climate reputation, which was in tatters after years of failings from the former Morrison government”.

Morgan said the new Albanese government’s decision to place climate change at the centre of Australia’s foreign policy and acknowledge it as a threat to national security had already delivered “crucial economic and strategic dividends for Australia”.

Morgan cited the prospect of a reset with Pacific island states, improved relations with the US, and a signal from the EU’s special envoy for the Indo-Pacific about the prospect of progress on the free trade agreement between Australia and the EU.

Morgan said:

Right now, it’s safe to say that we can hold our heads a little higher. However the new Australian government has a mandate to go even further and faster, which would deliver even more economic and strategic dividends.

Cheryl Durrant, a Climate Councillor and former director of preparedness and mobilisation at the Australian Department of Defence, said Australia was “now back in step with its allies on climate change”.

Durrant said the latest developments were “encouraging” and climate change needed “a strategically coherent response”.

The new government has pledged to reduce emissions by 43% by 2030 on 2005 levels, compared with the former government’s formal target of a 26% to 28% cut. But it has so far stopped short of heeding calls from the Pacific for even more ambitious action and specific curbs on fossil fuel projects.

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