Kristy McBain, who won the Eden-Monaro byelection for Labor, will be sworn into the parliament just before question time, at 2pm.
Lidia Thorpe, who will replace Richard Di Natale for the Greens, won’t be joining the Senate this sitting (she has to wait for the Victorian parliament to confirm her appointment, which has been delayed by the Covid outbreak) but the Greens are hopeful their new senator will be in place by the next sitting, in October.
Queensland records one new case
This is a test for Scott Morrison, Anthony Albanese says
The Labor leader has responded to the Victorian Liberals branch-stacking story by repeating Scott Morrison’s own words back to him.
When Victoria Labor’s branch-stacking allegations were revealed in June, Morrison said it was a “test” of Anthony Albanese’s leadership.
Anthony Albanese has been totally burned by this scandal,” Morrison said to Sydney radio 2GB at the time.
We’re fighting for jobs, they’re fighting each other.
Anthony Albanese is leading a party in absolute chaos and disarray.”
So far, the prime minister’s office has referred inquiries to the Victorian Liberal branch, which had launched an investigation into branch-stacking allegations prior to the 60 Minutes and the Age story launching.
Albanese said he and Victorian premier Daniel Andrews acted almost immediately, sacking Adem Somyurek as a minister the next day, and then moving to remove him from the Labor party (he resigned from the ALP ahead of his forced removal).
By the second day, Tuesday at 5 o’clock, we had intervened into the Victorian branch, appointed Steve Bracks and Jenny Macklin, as the administrators of the branch, a comprehensive action.
What is Scott Morrison saying now? Scott Morrison says it is a matter for the organisational wing, nothing to do with me. It’s a bit like aged care. Is there anything this prime minister is responsible for?
It’s a bit like the so-called national cabinet, where state governments do whatever they like and then he gets a press conference announcing what the state governments have told the federal government they will do.
This is a test for Scott Morrison and it is a test based upon his own words. Will he fulfil what he said, when it was a matter for the Victorian branch of the Labor party,
The Labor leadership acted, both federal and state, what will Scott Morrison and Michael O’Brien do? We’ll see today.
Acoss calls for urgent increase to jobseeker support
The Australian Council of Social Service is ramping up its campaign to have the unemployment benefit permanently increased.
CEO Cassandra Goldie said with unemployment, in real terms, predicted to reach 13% in the next few months, people cannot afford for the welfare payment to drop below the poverty line again:
“Instead of cutting $300 per fortnight from millions of people’s already sparse incomes next month, we need parliament to put in place a permanent, adequate jobseeker rate, which before the temporary Covid increase, [had] not been increased in over 25 years.
“There are 2.3 million people facing the $300 per fortnight cut on September 25 unless parliament acts in these two weeks. Troublingly, more than 1.1 million children are living in households that stand to have their incomes cut on 25 September.
“At the same time, there is only one job for every 12 people on jobseeker or youth allowance, borders continue to be closed, and Victoria continues to endure a long, necessary lockdown that is really tough on people and taking a toll on jobs.
“As well as being a health crisis, this is an unemployment crisis.
“People are in an impossible situation and we’re hearing from many who are only just able to cover the basics now with the current jobseeker rate and are worried about how they will pay for housing, food, and the costs of their children.
“As parliament resumes today, many people are distressed by the prospect of the planned dramatic cut in their incomes. In this parliamentary sitting, the government must urgently deliver a permanent, adequate increase to jobseeker and other income supports so that people can have security to cover the basics whilst they rebuild their lives,” Goldie said.
The federal government’s aged care response during the pandemic is going to be one of the big issues in this parliament sitting.
Last week, the government announced a further $171m in funding to address some of the issues.
But lobby groups, such as Aged and Community Services Australia, which represents non-profit aged care providers, says it is not enough:
“Any additional investment is obviously very welcome but we need to see big changes to prevent outbreaks,” Acsa CEO Patricia Sparrow said in a statement.
“While there is community transmission we can’t guarantee cases won’t get into aged care but our policies should aim for this and support early intervention.
“The better alternative is the kind of investment that will save lives and health budgets.
“The latest announcement of funds is just another stopgap. It is not enough to act as a prevention measure. It’s just more of the same drip-feed that’s kept aged care on life support even prior to the pandemic.
“A national aged care advisory group could be another step forward but only if it ensures resources like infection control experts as they have in hospitals and increases staff. Undertaking audits and reviews is not an end in itself.
“Community transmission is the enemy of aged care and it is going to continue for some time. Once a single case gets into a facility it can be impossible to contain.
“All states and the federal government must implement specific aged care policies that are about prevention instead of just responding to disaster when it has already occurred.
“Many state governments are maintaining a failed policy to keep first cases of Covid-19 within the aged care setting.
“Aged care homes are not hospitals. They aren’t staffed like hospitals. They are not funded like hospitals. They are homes,” Sparrow said.