CONDITIONAL SUPPORT

Senator Jacqui Lambie will back the government’s attempt to repeal medevac if, and only if, it revives the option of sending asylum seekers to NZ, Nine reports.

Lambie refused to reveal her condition to the media on Wednesday — on national security grounds — but sources with knowledge of the negotiations said she raised a third-country resettlement deal, in a bid to free “as many” asylum seekers as possible. In a statement, Lambie said she would vote in favour of the repeal of medevac if her “sensible and reasonable” condition was met. Meanwhile, Attorney-General Christian Porter has rejected Lambie’s last-minute changes ($) to the Ensuring Integrity Bill, which looks set to pass with One Nation support instead. 

SETTING A PRECEDENT

A key element of robo-debt has been found to be unlawful, with the government losing a Federal Court case brought by a plaintiff targeted by the scheme, Nine reports.

Judge Jennifer Davies ruled the government acted unlawfully when it raised a robo-debt against Deanna Amato and seized her tax return, as it “could not have been satisfied that a debt was owed in the amount of the alleged debt” based on tax data alone. Lawyers believe the case could open the door for other welfare recipients to be reimbursed, with Victoria Legal Aid executive director of civil justice Rowan McRae saying it showed the income averaging method used to calculate debt was unlawful. Government Services Minister Stuart Robert announced last week that Centrelink would no longer rely solely on this method to raise debts.

BAD CALL?

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is coming under increasing fire over his phone call to the NSW police commissioner, with a former top judge calling it an inappropriate use of his position.

Former ICAC commissioner David Ipp said the call appeared to have been made in the interests of political decision-making, rather than in the interest of the state, telling The Guardian “an ordinary citizen would not be able to get that information from the police … so what is it about the prime minister that entitles him to that information?” Ipp joins former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and Labor leader Anthony Albanese in condemning the call. The prime minister has refused to release notes from the call with the police chief, despite differing accounts of what was discussed, The New Daily reports.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

Being blunt about it, it is a call I would not have made.

Malcolm Turnbull

The former prime minister offers his two cents on his successor’s decision to ring the NSW police chief.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

50,000 children missing from school: Australia’s ‘hidden disaster’ revealed

Foreign interference scheme targets just one potential agent of influence

Man suspected of bid to install spy in Parliament has business linked to Chinese military

Education ministers to debate ditching the authority that runs NAPLAN

Yolngu seek $700m for NT Gove bauxite mine ($)

Westpac memo warned of breaches ($)

Aria awards 2019: Four wins for Dance Monkey hitmaker Tones and I

Power of attorney laws should be changed to protect elderly Australians, commissioner says

Hong Kong university in tatters after near two-week siege officially ends

Government sparks #RightToKnow furore over publicly available document

Queensland police had French journalists under surveillance, Adani documentary claims

Climate emergency: World ‘may have crossed tipping points’

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

A prime minister calls a police chief — and no, we’re not in Russia

“The conventions of ministerial responsibility have become progressively honoured in the breach in recent years, so it’s no real surprise that neither Taylor nor Morrison proposes to take this matter seriously or pay the public the respect of providing an actual explanation of what happened. However, there’s something even weirder here: the prime minister’s open acknowledgement that his first instinct was to call up the police chief for a personal chat about the current investigation of potential criminal conduct by one of his cabinet ministers. If that sounds a bit off to you, that’s because it is.”


Brian Houston cover-up smacks of government secrecy and deception

“If Morrison’s aim was to kill the story, he failed. His equivocation made journalists even more suspicious about the supposed invite, and eight people — including me — subsequently submitted FOI requests for correspondence about Houston’s alleged invitation. Even if full access to those documents was refused, PM&C would at least be forced to confirm the existence (or otherwise) of discussion about Houston’s invitation — or so I thought. What I hadn’t factored in was the government’s alarming willingness to undermine its own FOI laws.”


AAT accused of ‘intimidating’ robo-debt victims out of appealing

“A volunteer robo-debt caseworker — whose name has been withheld to protect her identity — told Inq she has heard from at least eight applicants who were allegedly contacted by the AAT’s case assessment officer and discouraged from appealing. They described the phone calls as confusing, intimidating and upsetting. They thought the officer was advising them as their lawyer; they claimed the officer jumped between documents confusingly and tried to pick apart minor points; they were left in tears after the officer allegedly said they should think of the Centrelink debt as a loan that needs repaying.”

THE COMMENTARIAT

How Australia’s superannuation system steals from the poor to give to the richRichard Denniss (The Guardian): “Outgoing Westpac chief executive Brian Hartzer will receive more taxpayer support for his retirement than the men and women who clean his former bank’s branches. Far more. While executives with multimillion-dollar pay packets often receive tens of thousands of dollars a year from other taxpayers, low-income earners such as cleaners, childcare workers and part-time teachers literally receive nothing. In fact, it’s possible for a low-income earner to work their whole life and receive no boost from fellow taxpayers to their personal super account. Welcome to the topsy-turvy land of superannuation, in which taxpayers give the most assistance to those who need it least, and no assistance to those who need it most. John Oliver once said: ‘If you want to do something evil then put it in something boring.’”

Premier, please help us save young lives: a plea from 27 doctors for pill testing Jennifer Stevens (The Age/Sydney Morning Herald):  “As front-line clinicians, we wish to see the adoption of policies most likely to minimise this damage. A number of our medical peers presented scientific evidence about maximising the safety of young people to the recent coronial inquest into the death of six patrons at NSW music festivals. Based on this evidence, they strongly recommended the establishment of a pill testing trial – recommendations that the NSW Deputy Coroner accepted and supported. We encourage the NSW Government to adopt the recommendations of this coronial inquest. Specifically, we encourage the government to prioritise methods that show evidence of reducing drug harms and deaths.”

Spy chief shows PM how to deal with a crisis ($) – Niki Savva (The Australian): “Morrison should have forced Taylor to make a universal unequivocal apology from the get-go, made him give a proper account of how he stuffed up by providing inaccurate information about Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore to The Daily Telegraph, forced him to sack staff if necessary and, as the son of a cop, Morrison should have known better, despite needling from Labor in parliament, than to personally call the NSW Police Commissioner to check on an investigation. He should have known it had the potential to compromise him, compromise Police Commissioner Mick Fuller, and taint the investigation into alleged fraud by Taylor or his office, regardless of the fact it was referred by Labor, and despite his strenuous efforts yesterday to turn blunders into virtues.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • A new publication, made up of essays on future policy by new federal politicians, will be launched.

  • Parliament will hold an inquiry into allergies and anaphylaxis.

Melbourne

  • The Melbourne Lift-Off Film Festival, a week-long event celebrating the indie film industry, will continue.

  • Environment and community groups will take part in the “Nature for Life” rally.

Sydney

  • Former foreign minister Julie Bishop will discuss Australia’s relationship with China at the Sydney launch of Peter Hartcher’s Quarterly Essay, Red Flag: Waking Up to China’s Challenge.

  • Former prime minister Tony Abbott will give an address on China, followed by a Q&A chaired by Lowy Institute executive director Dr Michael Fullilove.

  • First State Super CEO Deanne Stewart will examine factors contributing to the economic insecurity faced by many women in retirement, including the gender pay gap and time out of the workforce.

Griffith, New South Wales

  • The NSW government and WaterNSW will hold another public information session, focusing on water issues in drought-impacted regions.

Brisbane

  • Five former Linc Energy executives will appear in court, charged with failing to ensure the corporation complies with the law, in relation to alleged contamination caused underground coal gasification.

  • A judgment will be handed down in the Wakka Wakka people native title matter.

Brighton, Tasmania

  • Wildcare Tasmania CEO Sharon Smith will be announcing the release of a gift fund of $40,000 in support of Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary’s 24-hour rescue phone service.