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Australia politics live: workplace reform debate to begin in parliament; thinktank warns of ‘exploding suitcase’ in defence policy | Australia news

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Meanwhile, Bridget McKenzie still has this to deal with:

Budget estimates mates is back on today and the Opposition are focussing on where money has been taken from regional Australia as part of the redirection of funds.

Labor scrapped the funds which the previous government had given Barnaby Joyce and the Nationals as a balm for supporting Scott Morrison’s net zero by 2050 target.

A joint release from coalition MPs was sent this morning on some of the funds which have been re-directed:

The Coalition Government backed in our essential first responders by providing $10 million over two years to charity organisation Fortem Australia, for essential mental health and wellbeing support for those assisting during natural disasters.

However, Labor’s first Budget ripped $8 million in funding from the organisation, which means they are unable to open services in important regional locations like Townsville, Ballina, Albury-Wodonga, Gippsland, Dubbo, Nowra, Newcastle, Sunshine Coast, Darwin, Launceston and Perth.

Labor is ripping money from regional Australia, just like they did with the Building Better Regions Fund. Labor’s blatant carelessness for the wellbeing of our first responders needs immediate rectification. The Opposition is calling on Labor to urgently reverse this funding cut.

Expect to see more of that

Allegra Spender: Neither major party took available chance to change political donation regime

Allegra Spender said she believed a citizens’ assembly (like a big jury) should be involved in setting the rules for election spending and fundraising.


I think because people don’t trust politicians to make up the rules for their own political funding their campaigns.

I believe that if we actually listen to everyday people’s, you know – get together a group, a bit like a jury, of just people from broad parts of Australia, and said, ‘Okay, how do you believe politics should be funded’, and they were given the time and resources to really debate that … then I believe that [we could] come up with some great outcomes.

You see that very much in – we’ve seen other countries like Ireland use that same model to debate something really contentious, which was the abortion laws, and come up with a community something that was backed by the whole community.

I think, if you can really put politics back in the hands of the community – if you can do politics differently, then I think we will all be better off for it. And so that’s why I’m a strong advocate for that approach to resolve political donations, because, you know, both major parties have had a chance to change the political donation regime, and neither of them have made the major changes.

You know, both of them could have stopped Clive Palmer spending over $100m on political donations, but they haven’t. And so I think this is a change. I think that we could really see a fundamental shift in political funding.

Allegra Spender was also asked about how much money she and some of the other independents spent on their election campaigns.

She said:

It was, I know, it was an expensive campaign … For me, I think the biggest difference, however, was the volunteers.

So we had over 1,500 volunteers in our campaign who, you know – when you ask people [about] what made the difference, it’s people … the visibility of people who said, I care about climate change, I care about integrity, I care about a future-focused economy and I’m going to support an independent …

So I’m really proud of of the volunteers and I’m very grateful for the donations as well because honestly, if you’re in an independent and you need it’s a lot just to be known in the community.

That takes a lot of time. But I also agree with you, PK, and I believe we should fundamentally reform how we do political spending, but I can’t do that on my own. You actually need to get that across the parliament. And that’s something that I’m going to be driving as part of my time here.

It does have to be said, though, that small businesses don’t tend to be unionised, even when a majority of Australians were unionised (which was about 30 or so years ago).

The bill does not cover businesses with less than 15 employees, or those with their own enterprise bargaining agreements.

So that takes out a whole heap of small businesses.

Plus, a majority of employees in that small business would have to vote to take part in multi-employer bargaining.

So there are some protections in there for small businesses.

It is also worth noting that a lot of the big business lobby groups are spending a lot of time advocating for small business in this debate. Which they don’t represent.

The Senate won’t sit until parliament resumes in a couple of weeks. It’s going to be an interesting time.

Wentworth independent MP Allegra Spender is now speaking to ABC radio RN Breakfast and she is raising her concerns with the IR bill being rushed.

The government doesn’t need the crossbench in the house – it has the numbers itself. But it would be a very brave government indeed to ignore such a strong crossbench, which was elected by constituents who wanted politics done differently.

Spender says she is concerned with unintended consequences and everyone just needs more time to examine things like multi-employer bargaining:

Look, I believe, honestly that we should split the bill. I think there are elements of the bill that are particularly focused on low paid workers. And on feminised industries and around gender equity, that I believe there’s a lot of consensus around, you know, there’s business and unions have been working together on these areas for a long time and I think we could pass those parts of the bill by Christmas.

It is particularly however, the multi sector employer bargaining and particularly the piece where it’s forced bargaining buyers, you know, businesses that have never been forced into multi employer bargains.

I think we should take a really big pause on and look at the legislation in detail, because industrial relations legislation is some of the most complicated in our history, and you just need to see that you know, so many problems, actually, with the Fair Work Act are being trying to fix in this legislation, because there were problems in their Fair Work Act, which actually made it hard for businesses and workers to bargain together.

So I think we should be very cautious because otherwise you’re going to end up with a lot of unintended consequences.

But Tony Burke also concedes there that there won’t be a vote on the IR bill “for a couple of weeks”.

That is government code for – we aren’t close enough to having the votes yet.

Patricia Karvelas puts to Tony Burke Jacqui Lambie’s statement that it will be a “miracle” to have the bill past by Christmas.

Burke laughs and says the miracle might be getting Lambie across the line, but he’s not giving up on any option:

She’s made her own views really clear. And I don’t think anyone’s got a better turn of phrase than Jacqui Lambie when it comes to the parliament. There have been lots of occasions where things have looked to be impossible and the parliament has ended up finding a way.

And I’ll tell you if there was an issue where we should be trying to find a way right now, it’s at the core of the cost-of-living challenges. A whole lot of the inflationary pressures are international. There’s some we can do things about; there’s a lot that we can’t. We can do something about wages, and we really need to.

Tony Burke:

The pressure that is being felt is real. The sooner we act, the sooner pay will go up. And that’s why I’m doing everything I can to try to make sure we can get those wages moving for Australians this year.

Tony Burke doesn’t want to take out the single-interest stream as yet because “I want to get wages moving for as many people as possible”.

The single-interest stream is one part of multi-employer bargaining – the bill authorises workers with common interests to bargain together, where it is in the public interest for them to do so (thanks, Paul).

That’s what David Pocock wants carved out, so he can have more time to consult. That’s what the government doesn’t want to move on.

If you are looking for an explainer on the legislation we’ll be talking about today, Paul Karp has you covered:

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