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Thank you for joining me on the blog this afternoon. Here are the main headlines of the day:
To Victoria briefly, and all four of the candidates who have so far put up their hand to be the next Liberal Party leader say they would reverse Matthew Guy’s party room ban on Renee Heath, an ultra-conservative church member and newly elected upper house MP.
The contest to be the next leader of the opposition widened on Monday with four men – John Pesutto, Brad Battin, Ryan Smith and Richard Riordan – all confirming they would nominate for the top job when a ballot is held next month.
Guy – who resigned as party leader on Sunday after the Coalition’s election defeat – made the decision to exclude Heath after this masthead published a story exposing fresh evidence of disturbing conduct within the City Builders church. The church is opposed to gay, transgender and reproductive rights.
Labor is edging closer to the 55 seats it held in the last parliament with the party confident of winning Hastings and Preston, despite a statewide swing of 3.5 per cent to the Coalition on a two-party preferred measure.
Read the full story.
Staying with the press conference on the national terror threat, Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said she was committed to stripping citizenship from suspected terrorists, but she needed to wait for two pending cases in the High Court.
I’m very committed to creating a regime that would seek citizenship being taken away from people who act in a way that is incomprehensible alongside their Australian citizenship.
The question is how can we make a law that the High Court will believe is constitutional? There are two High Court cases in train at the moment that will allow the High Court to speak a bit more about what it sees as the constitutional limitations on such a scheme.
What I don’t want to do is legislate for a scheme and have it knocked out again, because I have to tell you that does create problems for us. What it means is that citizenship has been taken from a number of people who were dual citizens. And now that that citizenship is inevitably restored by the High Court’s decision. So I don’t want to go through that a third time.
We need to wait till the High Court has given us a better indication of what the constitutional limits are, and then we will legislate again for that.
O’Neil also said the government had not yet made any decisions about repatriating further groups of Australians from camps in Syria.
However, she said Australians needed to understand that the women and children in the camps were Australian citizens and would be allowed to return at some stage.
“Do we in a planned manner bring back groups of Australians from these camps or do we do this in an unplanned way where at some point these people will be allowed to leave the camp, they will be allowed to return to the country, and I cannot constitutionally do anything to stop them?” O’Neil said.
“The argument here is that in some instances, the better thing for us to do is to manage the return so those children can live something of a life that resembles an Australian upbringing around Australian values.”
O’Neil said there had been misinformation about where the repatriated Australians were resettling they were returning to their communities of origin, and it was not exclusively south-west Sydney.
We reported earlier today that Australia’s alert level for a terrorist attack had been downgraded from probable to possible.
While that’s good news, Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said she was alarmed by increasing speed at which someone could be radicalised and the surge of minors in the counter-terrorism caseload.
O’Neil, speaking at a press conference alongside ASIO director-general of security Mike Burgess, said the rise in children and teenagers being radicalised was a significant change.
“There have been times … where half of the priority investigative subjects of ASIO last year were minors,” O’Neil said.
“So we are seeing children 15, 14 years old, who are radicalising through a range of different means and at least indicating ideas about violence. Obviously, [that’s] of huge concern to us as a country.”
O’Neil said another change, which Burgess has spoken before, was the rise of extreme nationalism and racist, right-wing terror, with ideologically motivated groups now increasingly active in Australia and people who have a non-religious basis for their fundamentalism making up about half of the priority investigative subjects for ASIO.
She said this was a concern not just because of the spread of dangerous ideas, but because of the drive to violence.
O’Neil said people were also becoming radicalised and then moving to violence much faster, which experts called “the narrowing of flash to bang”.
“Part of the trend here is a shift to lower technology types of attacks,” she said.
“So back in 2014, we were seeing, you know, sophisticated planning and resourcing that went into one attack. The Director-General has talked about what we might see more commonly these days, which is people trying to exert violence with a knife or a car, something that you might have around you in your everyday life.”
The combination of these trends meant that a classic threat these days might be “a young person who has radicalised themselves through a range of different uses, including the use of technology and the internet, and might be seeking to cause violence with a knife or a car.”
O’Neil said law enforcement was not the only avenue for managing that.
“We need to think about young people, what is driving them to radicalise and to think that violence is an option for them and moving them away and off that pathway is going to require more than the efforts of our very hard-working police forces,” she said. “But thinking about their family environment, about youth and health supports that they may also need.”
In response to a journalist’s question, Burgess said “Incels” (referring to the involuntarily celibate) was not a driving ideology for the violent extremist cohort.
“It’s a thing in the world, but it’s not something that’s major in our caseload at this point in time,” he said.
“But you can’t rule it out because as I said, during COVID, as the Minister just alluded to, you’ve got lots of people trapped in their house, on their iPads or computers, not getting their behaviours moderated from interaction in society or the schoolyard. And that’s concerning. And these ideologies come at you from all over the place, through the internet.“
In case you missed it, the businesswoman who defrauded National Australia Bank of millions of dollars will avoid jail for another week, but a judge said it’s “effectively inevitable” she will be imprisoned for her crimes.
A jury last week found Helen Rosamond, owner of North Sydney-based event management company Human Group, guilty of 59 charges of paying kickbacks to a former NAB staffer and 31 charges of obtaining or attempting to obtain a financial advantage by deception.
Helen Rosamond entering court today.Credit:Nick Moir
She was found not guilty of one charge of giving a corrupt benefit, and one charge of obtaining a financial advantage by deception.
The Crown has applied for Rosamond’s bail to be revoked pending her sentencing early next year. Judge Robert Sutherland said today he would continue her bail pending the hearing of the detention application next Tuesday, when more details would be provided to the court about her caring responsibilities for a family member.
“It would be difficult to conceive of any fraud case of this proportion resulting in other than full-time custody,” Sutherland said.
Michaela Whitbourn has the full story.
Hundreds of Australian motorists will be able to access cheaper loans for electric vehicles as part of a $20.5 million investment by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
The cash injection, announced today, will be used to fund more than $100 million in loans for battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles through Taurus Motor Finance and EV Direct, which represents car maker BYD.
The discounted loans will see motorists save $1300 over a seven-year loan for a $48,000 vehicle.
The announcement comes just days after tax cuts were approved to lower the price of some electric vehicles in a deal between the Albanese government, the Greens and Senator David Pocock.
The Clean Energy Finance Corporation will offer discounted loans for electric vehicles.Credit:AP
Energy Minister Chris Bowen said cheaper loans were a strong incentive for consumers to buy EVs and this would help decarbonise the transport sector.
The price of new battery electric vehicles remains high in Australia compared with the rest of the world, with the cheapest models available for about $46,000. An entry-level Tesla costs $65,500 while a Polestar costs $67,000.
With new loans and tax policies, EV Direct chief executive Luke Todd said 2023 would be a “pivotal” year for the transport technology.
More than 20 banking and finance companies also offer discounted rates for the purchase of electric vehicles in Australia, including Westpac, Macquarie and Bank Australia, which this year announced it would stop financing loans for petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles from 2025.
Electric vehicles accounted for just 3.39 per cent of new vehicle sales in Australia until September 2022, according to the EV Council, representing a 65 per cent increase from 2021.
In international news, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she expected Twitter to play its part to eradicate extremist content, revealing her government intervened to ask the platform to delete videos of the Christchurch mosque massacre.
The recording of the 2019 terrorist attack, which was carried out by radicalised Australian Brenton Tarrant and originally livestreamed, has circulated on Twitter in recent days.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called on Twitter to remove Christchurch massacre footage.Credit:Getty
The uploading of the videos runs contrary to Twitter’s commitment to the Christchurch Call, an international agreement between countries and tech companies to eliminate online hate.
Ardern, who founded the Christchurch Call with French President Emmanuel Macron, said membership of the call put the onus on Twitter to delete it. She said New Zealand officials promptly raised it with Twitter, after the platform’s automated function reportedly did not pick up the footage.
Ardern noted the upheaval at the social media platform under the new ownership of Elon Musk, but said she didn’t expect the company to waiver from its commitment to the Christchurch Call.
Time will tell.
Obviously some of the layoffs we’ve seen have been in the content management space.
The advice that we’ve received from Twitter is that they have not changed their view on [Christchurch Call] membership.
We will continue to maintain our expectation that they do everything they can on a day-to-day basis to remove that content, but also to reduce terrorist content and violent extremist content online as they’ve committed to.
Musk has placed freedom of speech at the centre of his ownership, restoring previously blocked accounts including those of former US president Donald Trump and anti-Semitic rapper Kanye West.
Despite his commitment to free speech, Musk denied a request to reinstate conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
Tarrant last month announced an appeal to his life sentence.
Circling back to the Reserve Bank governor’s apology for ordinary Australians listening to his predictions on interest rates, senior economics correspondent Shane Wright has this analysis.
Wright says it was more “apology-adjacent” than an actual apology, and that it was notable that Lowe accepted only partial responsibility for the way people interpreted his words.
In October 2021, Lowe said: “[We] will not increase the cash rate until actual inflation is sustainably within the 2 to 3 per cent target range. The central scenario for the economy is that this condition will not be met before 2024. Meeting this condition will require the labour market to be tight enough to generate wages growth that is materially higher than it is currently.”
This was widely interpreted as a signal that rates would not increase until 2024.
Destructive thunderstorms with large hailstones are headed for parts of NSW, as the search continues for a teenager missing in floodwaters in south-west NSW.
Emergency crews and NSW Police are searching for a 19-year-old man who went missing around the flooded Murrumbidgee River near the border town of Balranald on Saturday.
Conditions remain hazardous at Balranald as the Murrumbidgee continues to rise today, with an expected peak of 7.4 metres this weekend.
It comes as a severe storm warning was issued for the NSW Mid North Coast through to the New England region in the west today.
A trough and unstable air mass created the severe thunderstorms, which could lead to large hail, heavy rainfall, flash flooding and damaging winds this afternoon.
The warning area includes Port Macquarie on the coast, Kempsey and Comboyne, and extends west to Walcha, Uralla, Armidale and Barraba.
It follows severe storms battering parts of Sydney, the Central Coast and Wollongong last night.
Well, that was a lively question time!
Now that’s out of the way, let’s take a moment to pause and reflect on the main headlines so far today.
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