Australian Politics 2018-09-09 15:55:00
Gladys Berejiklian apologises as NSW Liberals face Wagga Wagga byelection wipeout
This has no direct effect on the federal situation
The New South Wales premier, Gladys Berejiklian, has apologised to voters after a disastrous showing in the Wagga Wagga byelection looked set to see the seat slip out of the Liberal party’s grip for the first time in 60 years.
The party is almost certain to lose the previously ultra-safe seat in the Riverina region as the messy leadership spill in Canberra cost the sitting state government dear in Saturday’s poll.
“It’s likely that we’ll get the highest primary vote, but, of course, not enough to hold the seat,” Berejiklian said on Sunday. “It’s the most likely outcome is that independent Joe McGirr will win the seat.”
She apologised to voters for the byelection forced by the resignation of the disgraced MP Daryl Maguire.
“I want the people of Wagga to know that my government will work hard across NSW, but especially in that region, to win back the trust that we have clearly lost.
Acknowledging the impact of the ructions in Canberra that replaced Malcolm Turnbull with Scott Morrison, she said: “The overwhelming message I was getting is that people were sick of politicians fighting amongst themselves and sick of the perception that politicians were in it for themselves and not the community.
“And the circumstances which forced the previous member to resign, plus what happened at a different level of government, exacerbated those feelings that people had.”
Results so far show a projected swing of about 29% against the state’s Coalition government, with McGirr most likely to take the seat ahead of Labor.
Speaking to supporters in his Wagga backyard on Saturday night, McGirr said he was feeling “quietly optimistic” but didn’t expect a result until Sunday.
Coalition MPs admit gender equality issue but reject setting quotas
Coalition MPs are shying away from quotas to boost female representation in their federal party while leaving the door open to get there by other means.
The Liberal backbencher Trent Zimmerman argues the Coalition needs more structures, mentoring and training to get more women into politics.
“Whilst I don’t support quotas, it is worthwhile for the party to be setting targets so we can measure our success,” he told the ABC on Saturday. “And that becomes a performance measure, a KPI [key performance indicator] against which we can be judged.”
He said targets aimed at locking in a set proportion of male and female MPs, whereas quotas gave a “leg up” to female candidates during preselection.
Only one in five federal MPs within the Coalition are female, compared with nearly half within opposition ranks.
“I don’t think we’ll be at the right place until we have parity,” government frontbencher Greg Hunt told Nine News. “That’s 50%, plus or minus 5% in either direction over time because these things will ebb and flow.”
The Nationals MP and government minister Darren Chester acknowledged his party needed to encourage more women to take part in politics.
“I am not a big fan of quotas but I feel we have to be more actively seeking to recruit women to seats that are safer,” he told the ABC. “I think parliament is better when there is more diversity, and there is a challenge on our side to make that happen.”
But quotas were the answer for Labor MP Linda Burney, who said he had been a beneficiary of such a policy.
“One of the reasons that the Labor party is almost at 50% is exactly because of affirmative action policies,” she said. “Something deliberate like quotas or affirmative action is the answer, in my view, to bringing some equity about in terms of numbers.”
Last week, the Morrison government frontbencher Sussan Ley said the Liberal party needed to consider adopting quotas to boost female representation in parliament because “if you look at our party, the picture tells its own story”.
Ley told the ABC on Thursday night the Liberal party needed to do more to recruit women and ensure they were able to be preselected for safe seats.
She said she had not, historically, been a fan of quotas, “but I must say recently I’ve wondered whether we should consider them”.
Paris climate deal doesn't stop us building new coal plants, Canavan says
Australia does not need to quit the Paris climate agreement because our commitments are non-binding, and new coal plants can continue to be constructed, according to the resources minister, Matt Canavan.
Canavan told Sydney broadcaster Alan Jones on Friday he had never been to Paris, and was “happy to leave the Champs-Élysées for others”, but people needed to be clear the treaty Tony Abbott committed Australia to in 2015 “doesn’t actually bind us to anything in particular”.
Abbott said in 2015, when he announced Australia would be signing up, that the government was making a “definite commitment” to a 26% reduction in emissions by 2030 and “with the circumstances that we think will apply ... we can go up to 28%”.
But Canavan said on Friday the Paris commitment was a three-page document that allowed Australia flexibility to build new coal plants. The resources minister said rather than focusing on the situation in 2030, “what I want to focus on is solving the crisis we have in energy today”.
“We have to build power stations. There’s nothing in the [Paris] agreement that would stop us building power stations, including coal-fired power stations,” Canavan said.
“We need new ones”.
Canavan said Queensland was “propping up” New South Wales with the newest coal fleet in the country.
Jones prefaced his interview with Canavan with a long condemnation of the new foreign minister, Marise Payne, and the decision to sign on to a communique at the Pacific Islands Forum this week nominating climate change as the single greatest security threat to the Pacific.
The communique said all countries must meet their commitments under the Paris climate agreement.
Jones declared the prime minister, Scott Morrison, needed to “recall Marise Payne and replace her”. He said the Morrison government would have no hope of winning the next federal election if it wanted to “persist with the global warming rubbish and the Paris agreement”.
“Do you want to win an election or don’t you?” Jones said to Canavan on Friday morning.
Canavan dead-batted. “Of course I want to win the election, Alan. But, more importantly, what I want to do is have good policies for Australia and make our country strong”.
The Queensland Nationals have been campaigning for months for government backing for new coal plants.
In his first major speech in the energy portfolio, the new minister, Angus Taylor, signalled he wanted to encourage new investment extending the life of existing coal and gas plants, and upgrading ageing facilities.
Taylor said the government was intent on boosting supply, and that meant expanding existing plants, upgrading ageing “legacy” generators, as well as pursuing new “greenfield” projects.
Taylor is currently working up options for cabinet.
A recent forecast by the Australian Energy Market Operator predicted 30% of Australia’s coal generators will approach the end of their technical life over the next two decades, and it said it was important to avoid premature departures if the looming transition in the national energy market is to be orderly.
But it was also clear that the most economical replacement for the ageing coal fleet was not new coal, but “a portfolio of utility-scale renewable generation, storage, distributed energy resources, flexible thermal capacity, and transmission”.
Aemo concluded that mix of generation could produce 90 terawatt hours of energy per annum, “more than offsetting the energy lost from retiring coal-fired generation”.
A recipe for trouble: Girl Guides to let 'boys who identify as female' join and share bedrooms, bathrooms
After being female only for more than a hundred years Girl Guides is allowing boys who identify as girls to join the ranks.
Anyone who is transitioning or identifies as a girl is now allowed to join - and there are already three girls who previously identified as boys already in the guides.
Those who are biologically female but identify as male are not allowed to join Girl Guides.
Girl Guides Victoria CEO Amanda Kelly told the Herald Sun: 'It's not a big deal, it's more of an explanation of what we already do.'
Girl Guides is for females between five and 17, which means that those who as 'non-binary/neutral/gender fluid' because it is an 'explicitly female organisation', the publication reported.
While only three young women in Victoria have disclosed Ms Kelly believes there are more in the organisation who are.
She said in one case the girl had not disclosed and they had helped her do that.
Another has been happy and open to talk about her transition.
The policy stated: 'An individual is to be considered the final authority on their own gender identity. The only way to know if a person is a transgender person is if the person discloses this to you.
'It is not appropriate to judge who is and who is not a girl, nor is it appropriate to approach a person to ask if they are transitioning.'
The new policy guidelines mean that any child is able to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.
In the event that a parent is concerned about this the Girl Guides Victoria has set strict guidelines.
'This is often raised in conversations about denying transgender people access to bathrooms and is recognised as a form of discrimination. Advise the parent that you expect all girls to behave in respectful and appropriate ways,' they state.
Those involved in a unit will also participate in the same activities, including sleeping in the same area.
Kristen Hilton, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner, said she welcomed the new policies.
Prime minister says Neg will not be going any further but Australia still committed to meeting emissions targets
Australia remains committed to meeting its Paris emissions targets even as it moves to dump its national energy policy, Scott Morrison’s government says.
The prime minister will propose ditching the national energy guarantee in a party room meeting when parliament resumes next week, also ruling out enshrining Australia’s Paris agreement commitments in law.
“The government remains committed to meeting its Paris targets,” a spokesperson from the prime minister’s office said on Saturday. “Our commitment stands but we won’t be legislating it.”
Earlier, Morrison confirmed to the Weekend Australian that the energy policy formed by his predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull, would be axed.
“The Neg is dead, long live reliability guarantee, long live default prices, long live backing new power generation,” Morrison said. “Largely, we are in that position already anyway, so it’s not a major shift. But we just need to put to rest any suggestion that this legislation is going ahead.”
Speaking to the ABC, the Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman conceded he was sorry to see the Neg go but said that all its energy reliability guarantees would remain.
“The first thing to say is we’re not tearing up the Paris targets,” he said, following internal division within the Coalition over whether to legislate them or not. “But our commitment to fulfil them remains.”
Even with the dumping of the Neg, Zimmerman said the government still had a strong energy policy focused on driving down prices. This included giving new powers to the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission to sanction and divest energy companies not playing fair. It also included an investment guarantee to support dispatchable power.
But the Labor MP Linda Burney criticised Australia’s new energy minister, Angus Taylor, for playing down the importance of the Paris agreement.
“I’m astounded that the government would walk away from trying to land a national energy policy,” Burney told the ABC. “If the government says they’re moving to lowering power prices, forgetting renewables, forgetting the national energy guarantee, I think it is really fraught.”
Morrison’s comments on the Neg are a continuation of the Coalition’s position at the end of Malcolm Turnbull’s time as leader of the Liberal party.
Late last month the then prime minister announced the Neg – the policy his government had argued for months was necessary to create investment certainty in Australia’s energy sector – had been shelved indefinitely because he could not proceed with it in the face of opposition from within his own party.
The move triggered anger among business groups that had lined up publicly for months to support the Neg.
Earlier this week Morrison was insisting Australia would meet its Paris climate commitments “in a canter”, which contradicted advice from the Energy Security Board that said business as usual would mean the electricity sector would “fall short of the emissions reduction target of 26% below 2005 levels”.
A summary of modelling undertaken by the ESB and released only a month ago said if no policy was put in place in the electricity sector, emissions would fall initially, then flatten out and rise towards the end of the decade to 2030 as forecast demand increased, then dip again in 2029-30.
The ESB said if the national energy guarantee wasn’t implemented, the national electricity market would “fall short of the emissions reduction target of 26% below 2005 levels”.
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