Australia news LIVE: Labor accuses Coalition of ‘hysteria’ over foot and mouth disease as 47th parliament sits for first time; COVID cases grow across the nation

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Australia weighs Myanmar sanctions after pro-democracy activists executed

By Marta Pascual Juanola

Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong has condemned the execution of four pro-democracy activists in Myanmar and says Australia is considering sanctions against members of the country’s military junta.

The men were sentenced to death in closed-door trials in January and April, accused of helping militias fight the army that seized power in a coup last year.

Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong.

Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong.Credit:Joe Armao

Democracy figure Kyaw Min Yu, also known as Jimmy, and former MP and hip-hop artist Phyo Zeya Thaw, were among those executed. The other two men sentenced to the death penalty were Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw.

In a statement issued this morning, Wong said Australia is “appalled” by the executions – the South-East Asian nation’s first in decades – and called on the regime to cease the violence and release those unjustly detained.

“Australia opposes the death penalty in all circumstances for all people,” she said.

“We extend sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives since the coup.”

Wong added that the federal government is actively considering introducing sanctions against members of the junta.

“Australia is clear and consistent in our support of human rights around the world. Sanctions against members of Myanmar’s military regime are under active consideration.”

Bowen says Opposition isn’t listening to business when it comes to climate change

By Angus Thompson

Returning to federal politics, and Climate and Energy Minister Chris Bowen says the Coalition “seems to know more about business than the Business Council” in opposing the emission reductions bill to be introduced to parliament this week.

“The Liberal Party – at least the leader of the Liberal Party – seems to have not received the memo from the Australian people on May 21 that it’s time to end the climate wars,” Bowen said during his press conference.

Federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen.

Federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen.Credit:Rhett Wyman.

He added that the opposition, unlike the crossbench, had “made themselves irrelevant to the process”.

The Business Council of Australia is a major lobby group calling for, among other things, greater ambition in addressing climate change.

The government is consulting with the Greens and independents over the final make-up of its legislation to address climate change.

However, Bowen insisted the government will act within the mandate it was given from the Australian people.

“We sought and received that mandate,” he said.

“We won’t be moving away from any element of that mandate … we’ve also made it clear that we are happy to receive suggestions of a constructive nature from people of goodwill across the parliament who are willing and able to work with the government. And we’ve done that.”

Nation’s most senior banking regulator steps down

By Shane Wright

To business news for a moment, and the nation’s most senior banking regulator, Wayne Byres, is to step down as chair of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers this morning said Byres, who has been with APRA since its creation in 1998, would step down from 30 October.

APRA chairman Wayne Byres will step down in October.

APRA chairman Wayne Byres will step down in October.Credit:Louie Douvis

The announcement comes as policymakers grapple with a fragile economic environment with challenges from inflation, the associated lift in interest rates and COVID-related labour shortages.

It’s also one of a number of changes at regulators. Joe Longo was appointed as head of the corporate regulator (the Australian Securities and Investments Commission) in June last year and Gina Cass-Gottlieb took the helm at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in March.

The Reserve Bank of Australia is also facing its first review in decades.

Byres has been chair of APRA since July 2014. He was reappointed to a second, 5-year term in July 2019.

In a statement, Chalmers said he had made an outstanding contribution to the regulator.

“His leadership and expertise has positioned the Commonwealth to respond well to some of the greatest challenges in Australia’s history,” he said.

“Most recently, in ensuring the stability of the financial system during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Chalmers said the government would undertake an “open and transparent process” to find Byres’ replacement.

In a statement, Byres said he was pleased with what had been achieved at APRA over the past eight years. But he said it was now a suitable time to move on.

“I feel that now is a good time to hand over the chair’s role to someone new, who will lead the organisation on the next stage of its journey,” he said.

“Just as we expect the financial institutions we regulate to carefully consider how they renew their leadership, the same applies to APRA.”

with Mathew Dunckley

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Watch: climate change minister’s press conference

Federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen has held a brief press conference where he talked about the introduction of the government’s climate change bill.

We’ll have the playback version with you shortly.

PM says implementing Uluru Statement of the Heart is about ‘good manners’

By Angus Thompson

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has addressed the Welcome to Country ceremony at Parliament House, urging his colleagues to implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

He has described the statement as a “generous offer” from Australia’s Indigenous community.

The PM also spoke about his upbringing, saying his mother “was very strong about manners”.

“The Statement from the Heart is, to my mind, just to be seen as good manners,” he said.

“Why wouldn’t you grab that generous and gracious offer, which is about acknowledging dispossession and colonisation, and all the tragedy and injustice that occurred to First Nations people as a result of the First Fleet arriving in 1788?

“The Uluru Statement represents an opportunity that must be seized, because if it isn’t seized, it will be lost.”

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the Welcome to Country ceremony “carried a strong message of unity”.

“A Welcome to Country made in the spirit of peace and a desire for harmony with all peoples of modern Australia,” he said.

Dutton quoted Aboriginal rights activist Noel Pearson, who said Australians had an “epic story”.

“This, the 47th Parliament of Australia, will be an important one for Indigenous
Australians. Indeed, for all Australians.”

A smoking ceremony is now being held outside Parliament House.

Parliamentary proceedings kick off with Welcome to Country address

By Angus Thompson

Official proceedings for the first day of the 47th parliament has opened with a Welcome to Country address in the Great Hall.

Speaking to parliamentarians, Ngambri-Ngunnawal custodian Paul Girrawah House urged the federal government to implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full, but also strive for a treaty.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese are greeted by Elders Aunty Matilda House and Paul House during a Welcome to Country ceremony to mark the start of the 47th Parliament.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese are greeted by Elders Aunty Matilda House and Paul House during a Welcome to Country ceremony to mark the start of the 47th Parliament. Credit:Alex Elinghausen

He said this term of parliament would be profoundly important for the first peoples of Australia and the nation.

“The government has committed to implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart, Voice, treaty, truth. We trust this parliament will act responsibly in embracing all three elements.”

He added that the government must act on holding a referendum to enshrine an Indigenous Voice to parliament in the constitution.

“But let’s remember the Voice is only the start of the implementation of the Uluru statement … ultimately there must be a national treaty, there must be truth telling.”

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Victoria reports 12,339 new COVID cases, 40 deaths

By Broede Carmody

Victoria’s daily coronavirus numbers have also been published.

The state is today reporting 12,339 new cases of COVID-19 and 40 additional deaths from the virus.

In terms of hospitalisations, 869 Victorians are in hospital with coronavirus. Thirty-nine are in intensive care.

Teal MP’s maiden speech to tackle ‘fragmentation of trust’

By Angus Thompson

Independent Goldstein MP Zoe Daniel will be the first new parliamentarian to speak in the House of Representatives tonight, revealing her address will be about rebuilding trust between the community and Australia’s leaders.

“I think the fragmentation of trust has been a real problem, not only in Australia, but internationally, in recent years,” the former journalist, whose electoral victory unseated Liberal MP Tim Wilson, told Sky News.

The new federal member for Goldstein, Zoe Daniel

The new federal member for Goldstein, Zoe DanielCredit:Penny Stephens

“I think that as a community independent with direct engagement with my community, and bringing that voice to the parliament, that is part of my core business.”

Daniel, who has been involved in negotiations with the government on the climate bill, said while she campaigned for a target of 60 per cent emissions reduction, her level of confidence in the government’s 43 per cent target improved on the basis that it was a floor, not a ceiling.

“I think my supporters would be more disappointed if we spent the next six months arguing over what the target number should be rather than actually making progress on this,” she said.

NSW records 14,067 new cases of COVID-19, 30 deaths

By Broede Carmody

NSW’s daily coronavirus numbers have just been published.

The state has recorded 14,067 new cases of COVID-19 and 30 additional deaths from the virus.

There are 2344 people with the virus in NSW hospitals. Of those, 66 are in intensive care units.

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Climate change minister says 43 per cent ‘is our minimum commitment’

By Broede Carmody

Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen has issued a statement regarding Labor’s climate change bill that it hopes to pass this week.

The bill will enshrine the party’s 43 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030, and net-zero emissions by 2050, into law.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen.Credit:James Brickwood

Labor insists the 43 per cent target is a floor and not a ceiling. This has been a major sticking point with the Greens and teal independents.

“We were given a mandate and now we are delivering,” Bowen said in his statement.

“This bill confirms our commitment to ambitious but realistic targets supported by Australia’s states and territories, business, industry, unions, environmental and community groups and provides a platform for collaboration to drive down emissions while ensuring reliable energy supplies.

“The bill makes it clear that 43 per cent is our minimum commitment and does not prevent our collective efforts delivering even stronger reductions over the coming decade.”

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