Australia news live: Bill Shorten says some NDIS providers giving ‘rubbish services’; Tropical Cyclone Jasper intensifies

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Paul Karp

Paul Karp

Amanda Rishworth won’t commit to total ad ban

In the wake of the death of Labor MP Peta Murphy, we’ve been thinking about the social affairs committee she chaired calling for a total ban on online gambling ads. Over at the Sydney Morning Herald, David Crowe has made the point that the Albanese government could honour her legacy by following through on that call.

This morning we asked social services minister Amanda Rishworth:

One of Peta Murphy’s biggest contributions to the public policy debate was the call for a total ban on gambling ads, the three year phase-in period for that was supposed to begin in December 2023, it’s clear the government has not met the deadline. You’ve talked around the issue for months but never committed to the principle of a total ban. Wouldn’t the best way to honour her memory be to commit to eliminate, and not just reduce, the harm of problem gambling with a total ad ban?

Rishworth replied:

Peta Murphy is a dear friend and a colleague that I worked very closely with. And her contribution to public policy was significant. Of course, one of the pieces of work that she did was the report into online gambling. We are working through our response to that report and we will continue to give it due diligence, that it deserves. Of course, a number of the issues canvassed in that report go to the commonwealth working with states and territories. And I have to say, as minister for prevention of harm from online gambling, I’ve already met twice with my ministerial colleagues. The previous government had not had a meeting since 2017. We are continuing to work with state and territory reasons about how we might, for some of the joint recommendations, progress those.

AAP has more detail on the extreme heat being felt across parts of the country, as a heatwave continues to spread:

The mercury didn’t dip below 30C overnight in the NSW outback town of Wilcannia as it sweats through a forecast 10-day streak of 40C days.

High temperatures sparked a warning to employers to protect their workers and develop a workplace heat-management plan to ensure safety.

SafeWork NSW head Trent Curtin said today:

We don’t want to see anyone needing medical attention due to heat exposure.

Workers are reminded to listen to their body when the temperature rises and to drink plenty of water.

It is vital you do not replace water with soft drinks, energy drinks or coffee as these can dehydrate you further.

Unsafe practices can be reported in NSW via the Speak Up Save Lives app.

Parts of Queensland, West Australia, the Northern Territory and ACT have also copped soaring temperatures that are expected to intensify over the weekend:

Extinction Rebellion protests block traffic in Melbourne

About 15 Extinction Rebellion activists have disrupted traffic in Melbourne this morning as part of a climate protest.

The protesters staged a roadblock at the Montague Street exit of the West Gate Freeway about 7.30am. They held banners reading “Climate code red” and “We need disruption to end the disruption”.

A statement said the protesters intended to remain on the intersection until arrested by police, and apologised to motorists for the disruption.

Victorian police have been contacted to ask if any arrests were made.

Protesters stage a roadblock at the West Gate Freeway this morning
Protesters stage a roadblock at the West Gate Freeway this morning. Photograph: Extinction Rebellion
Traffic held up by the roadblock
Traffic held up by the roadblock. Photograph: Extinction Rebellion
The protesters at the roadblock
The protesters Photograph: Extinction Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion spokesperson Mark Conroy said:

It may seem extreme to take actions like these, but it’s nothing compared to the extremity of the fires, floods and famines that are coming if we don’t take emergency-speed action.

Governments around the world are not doing nearly enough to avert climate breakdown. We are doing what we feel is necessary to be heard, and we call on all Australians to join us in disrupting business-as-usual until the government commits to taking proportionate action.

Text service to counter family violence

A new SMS service has launched today for those experiencing family, domestic or sexual violence – with people now able to text 1800RESPECT to receive specialist counselling and support services.

Minister for social services Amanda Rishworth
Minister for social services Amanda Rishworth. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Speaking to ABC News Breakfast just earlier, minister for social services Amanda Rishworth said people who text the service would receive automated safety information “immediately” before connecting with a counsellor to SMS back-and-forth:

What 1800RESPECT and this text service will do is provide you with a connection point to local services in your area. But it is not just about emergency accommodation, it is also about advice, information, what to do and where to go.

One of the key areas we know is women often are finding it hard to identify they are in a family domestic or sexual violence situation, and so this service will help women with the confidence to identify.

Rishworth said the SMS service was not yet available in other languages but the phone service provided translation. A video service is also expected to launch early next year.

Will this legislation stand up to a high court challenge?

David Pocock:

I’m not sure. I think ultimately there will be a challenge.

All this legislation was yesterday referred to a Senate committee which will look at it after the fact – not ideal circumstances for legislating.

I would have liked the major parties to have supported some sort of sunset to these laws, which would force us early in the year to look at them properly, but that wasn’t the case.

‘This is about community safety’

Parliament has passed preventive detention laws in response to the high court ruling which found indefinite immigration detention to be unconstitutional.

Q: Why did you back the legislation?

David Pocock:

I backed it because this is about community safety. I think the government could have been better prepared but ultimately we had to deal with this.

Pocock said he had moved amendments to both bills of six-month and 12-month “sunsetting clauses”:

Basically saying this is rushed, we haven’t had time to look at it, so let’s put in a sunset so we can come back next year and know that this legislation will expire, we can amend the laws as as we see fit to have a system in place that will keep people in our community safe.

He said it was important to bear in mind that Australia doesn’t have a human rights act, or an enshrined, overarching bill of rights:

I think we’ve got to be really mindful of that when we rush through legislation like this.

‘Huge amount of detail and nuance’

David Pocock said when it comes to IR legislation there is a “huge amount of detail and nuance to be dealt with” to ensure the system is workable:

The minister said that there is consensus amongst gig companies that there needs to be some sort of minimum standards, but it’s working out the details of what they look like.

The other contentious issue is the provisions around casuals, and again, there’s wide recognition this is something that needs to be dealt with. But it needs to be a simple straightforward system that as a worker and as a business you can navigate.

Independent senator David Pocock
Independent senator David Pocock. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Pocock hails same-job, same-pay bill

Independent senator David Pocock is speaking to ABC RN about industrial relations legislation.

Yesterday Labor’s same-job, same-pay in labour hire and wage theft legislation passed the Senate after a deal with Pocock and Jacqui Lambie.

Although the deal is likely to blunt a fierce employer campaign against the same-job, same-pay provisions, splitting the bill will mean that reforms to the gig economy, road transport industry and casual work will have to wait until 2024.

You can read more on this below:

Speaking about the changes this morning, Pocock said:

I’ve spoken to so many workers, some have been in tears at the way that their employers are exploiting this loophole. And again, there are very legitimate uses of labour hire – things like specialist contractors, the ability to bring in more workers when you have a new project – that’s very legitimate.

But for workers to be on an ongoing basis, working alongside others and earning less money, I think that is it’s a genuine loophole that needs to be closed.

Police search for men they say broke into a cemetery and stole a diamond ring

Victorian police are investigating after two people allegedly broke into a cemetery, removed a casket and took a diamond ring.

Police allege that two men broke into Preston general cemetery just before 5am on 30 July, accessing a mausoleum, removing a casket and reaching the body of a woman inside.

Investigators believe a valuable diamond ring was removed from the body.

Detectives are treating the alleged break-in as targeted and believe theft might not be the only motive. Images have been released of the two men in hopes someone can identify them or provide more information.

A masked man at a doorway
Footage released by Victoria police
A second masked man
A second man

The pair were wearing gas masks, hooded jumpers and dark clothing.

Det Insp Graham Banks said it was a “highly unusual” raid:

While theft is not discounted as the only motive, police are receiving consistent intelligence that this was undertaken as a form of retribution against a relative of the deceased woman.

Detectives will continue to investigate the matter with an open mind and hope to determine whether the two men who undertook this action did so of their own accord or if were tasked by another person or group.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.

Jasper picks up force

As we flagged earlier, Tropical Cyclone Jasper strengthened to a category four intensity overnight and is moving through the north-east Coral Sea.

As my colleague Peter Hannam has pointed out – the the Joint Typhoon Warning Center has noted winds strengthening. Wind gusts, for instance, may reach 85 knots or 157km/h.

Rainfall should also pick up along parts of the north Queensland coast.

Detectives investigate Melbourne restaurant fire

Detectives will investigate whether a restaurant fire in the Melbourne city centre is connected to a spate of arson attacks.

Emergency services were called to the Docklands business about 2.50am this morning after reports of suspicious activity in the area.

It’s understood three offenders smashed the window of a Glenti Place restaurant before using a suspected accelerant to set it alight. The trio were seen running from the scene before leaving in a vehicle.

A crime scene has been established, with an arson chemist and investigators to assess the site.

There have been 29 arsons or attempted arsons over the past eight months, predominantly linked to tobacco stores in Melbourne and regional Victoria.

Officers have previously said the serious incidents and firebombings are linked to a conflict between rival groups.

The dispute is believed to include members of Middle Eastern organised crime groups and outlaw motorcycle gangs that use youths, street gangs and low-level criminals to carry out offending.

Anyone who witnessed the Docklands fire or saw someone acting suspiciously in the area should contact police.

– from AAP