As it happened: Labor’s industrial relations reforms pass the Senate; Liberals to finalise Voice to parliament position next year – Sydney Morning Herald

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Good evening, and thank you for reading our live coverage of the day’s events. If you’re just joining us, here’s a wrap of the major headlines today.
That is all for the blog for today. I hope you enjoy the weekend. We will be back with you on Monday morning from 7am.
The conservative lawyer favoured to win preselection in the ultra-safe Liberal seat of Castle Hill has had his nomination blocked because he criticised the Berejiklian government’s pandemic lockdowns.
Noel McCoy, a former Young Liberal president, was expected to win the coveted seat after using his support in the hard-right faction to edge out centre-right rival and sitting member Transport Minister David Elliott.
Lawyer Noel McCoy has been blocked from contesting Liberal preselection in Castle Hill over his vocal opposition to the NSW government’s pandemic response.
However, McCoy on Friday said a Liberal Party internal review committee had rejected his candidacy over his vocal opposition to COVID-19 lockdowns and mandatory vaccinations.
“I have consistently and publicly sought to defend the party’s core values – freedom and liberty – and, in doing so, have at times in the more recent past criticised some aspects of the Berejiklian government’s and the Morrison government’s policy responses to COVID,” McCoy said.
“This has been weaponised to block me.”
After the rejection of McCoy’s nomination, Liberal Party state director Chris Stone emailed preselectors late on Friday to tell them that, due to “unforeseen circumstances”, the preselection for Castle Hill had been cancelled.
This could signal the revival of Elliott’s political career after he withdrew his nomination for Castle Hill because he lacked the factional support to win the preselection. Elliott gave his valedictory speech but made it clear he was keen to stay in state parliament.
Read more here.
Welcome to your five-minute recap of the trading day, and how the experts are seeing it.
The numbers: The Australian sharemarket failed to gain traction on Friday, weighed down by energy and real estate stocks. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.7 per cent lower to 7301.5 points, following on from Wall Street’s uneven lead overnight
Wall Street has made an uncertain start to December.Credit:AP
The lifters: Commodities fared well throughout the session, with rare-earths miner Lynas gaining 2.5 per cent and copper player Silver Lake Resources surging 7 per cent. Gold miners Capricorn Metals and Newcrest Mining also advanced, climbing 8.1 per cent and 2.1 per cent, respectively.
Resources minnow Warrego Energy soared by 8.5 per cent as billionaire Kerry Stokes’ Beach Energy and Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Energy continue their pursuit of the company.
The laggers: All big four banks closed in the red, punctuated by Commonwealth Bank which shed 1.4 per cent. Energy stocks posted a dour session, with Woodside Energy declining 2.6 per cent to $35.70 and Santos sinking 3.8 per cent after it lost its bid to restart work at the multi-billion-dollar Barrosa gas project.
Corporate Travel Management plunged by 5.8 per cent, while metallurgical coal company Coronado Global Resources lost 4.3 per cent after it revealed its Curragh site would not meet production volumes and mining costs guidance due to unprecedented weather.
Heavyweight miners BHP and Rio Tinto also closed 1.5 and 1.1 per cent lower, respectively.
The lowdown: Despite hitting a seven-month high on Thursday, the local bourse closed the week weaker as energy stocks slumped and improving commodity prices failed to bolster the index.
Read more here.
Over the next fortnight, three of the nation’s biggest banks will face a fresh round of shareholder pressure over the awkward balancing act lenders must perform in response to climate change.
Each of the big four supports moving to a net-zero world by 2050, which inevitably requires slashing lending to fossil fuel giants. Yet at the same time, the lenders have also left the door open to financing new gas projects, which could emit carbon into the atmosphere for years to come.
NAB, ANZ and Westpac will all face investor pressure over their climate change stance at upcoming shareholder meetings.Credit:Paul Rovere
The inherent tension between the two positions is not unique to banks, and it reflects Australia’s broader stance on climate change. But given their economic clout, bank bosses face hours of grilling over this issue at annual general meetings, which will be held by Westpac, National Australia Bank in the two weeks before Christmas.
This year there are a couple of reasons why this long-standing climate pressure on banks is becoming even more acute.
The banks have all made the fairly easy decision to slash their lending to coal miners. But they are now in trickier territory.
One is that investors are getting a better understanding of how climate change could damage the banks’ loan books. Second, we are getting closer to crunch time – when banks start making tougher decisions to ditch corporate clients that don’t have credible plans to cut their carbon emissions.
Both issues were explored in a report this week from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), which modelled how climate change could affect $1.7 trillion in mortgages, as well as business loans, on the books of the country’s five biggest banks.
Read more here.
Earlier today, Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin met with Australian PM Anthony Albanese. You can watch highlights of the meeting below:
Strike action scheduled at Australia’s major airports has been called off after Airservices Australia signed a 12-month agreement with the United Firefighters Union of Australia’s aviation branch.
Under the new enterprise agreement, the firefighters will receive a 4.9 per cent salary increase, ending 12 months of tense negotiations.
The United Firefighters Union Aviation Branch Secretary Wes Garrett announcing the reasons for the strike earlier this week. Credit:Michael Quelch
The union was readying to take protected industrial action from 6am to 10am across 27 of Australia’s airports next Friday, including all capital city gateways.
About 100 firefighters have left the industry through a voluntary retirement scheme since October 2021, which the union said has resulted in more than 600 flights every month operating with insufficient firefighting protection.
Climate activist Deanna Marie “Violet” Coco will spend at least eight months in prison for blocking one lane of the Sydney Harbour Bridge by standing on the roof of a truck holding a lit emergency flare in April.
Coco, a 32-year-old Fireproof Australia and Extinction Rebellion supporter, pleaded guilty to seven charges, including disrupting vehicles, interfering with the safe operation of a bridge, possessing a bright light distress signal in a public place, failing to comply with police direction, and resisting or hindering a police officer.
Climate activist Deanna Marie ‘Violet’ Coco.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen
The activist was sentenced to 15 months in jail with a non-parole period of eight months, and fined $2500 by magistrate Allison Hawkins at Sydney Downing Centre today. She was refused bail and her lawyers have lodged an appeal, with a hearing set for March 2, 2023.
Coco posted a video to Facebook earlier this year detailing why she has been arrested 20 times previously for other climate protests.
Her lawyer Mark Davis said she was the first person jailed under new laws making it illegal to disrupt traffic with sentences of up to two years in jail.
“These are anti-protest laws under the guise of a road law,” Davis said. “We put it to the court that blocking one of five lanes should be seen at the lower end of that offence, and we believe there were alternatives to a custodial sentence.”
Human Rights Watch Australia researcher Sophie McNeill said climate protesters were being targeted for “disproportionate punishment” in NSW.
“Citizens who protest and violate the law can face appropriate punishment, but the punishment should not be intended to prevent all protesters from exercising their fundamental right to protest,” McNeill said.
In a post online, Coco wrote:
“I respect the law and do not want to break the law; however, community leaders have pointed out that it is time to protest, as all other channels have failed to have this situation taken seriously.
“Leaders like Greg Mullins, who was the NSW Fire and Rescue Commissioner for 39 years, says, ‘we need to be noisy, naughty Australians – the government only listens to the squeaky wheel’.”
Communications Minister Michelle Rowland has defended the Labor government’s policy to return the national broadband network closer to its original design, despite fresh admissions it will not be able to recover $31 billion invested into the project.
Speaking alongside Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin, as the pair announced a major upgrade that aims to boost internet speeds for 7 million Australians by 100 times, Rowland said the current government’s policy would future-proof the NBN.
Communications Minister Michelle Rowland; Finnish Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari; Nokia Chief Customer Experience Officer Ricky Corker; and Prime Minister of Finland Sanna Marin at the launch of a new, faster generation of NBN infrastructure that is being rolled out by Nokia.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer
“I think by coming in, myself and Finance Minister [Katy] Gallagher as shareholder ministers, we have effectively undertaken a regulatory reset,” Rowland said.
“We will keep the NBN in public ownership for the foreseeable future whilst we finish this job of making it a better network.”
Rowland’s comments come after NBN Co admitted in a newly submitted pricing proposal that it will not be able to recover $31 billion in regulatory costs attached to the initial build of the network.
Under the new model, NBN Co will charge telcos such as Telstra and Optus much lower wholesale prices, which has been a major point of contention.
The NBN was first announced by the Rudd Government in 2009 and was intended to provide fibre network coverage for 93 per cent of Australian homes and businesses. In 2014, under the new Coalition government, then-Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the roll-out would switch from a primarily fibre-to-premises model to a mix of different technologies. The NBN currently involves six different underlying technologies.
Rowland took aim at the Coalition government over its decision to use Telstra’s copper network for fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) connections, which she said had resulted in cost blowouts and made the NBN less reliable.
Read more here.
Bangkok: A small Buddhist temple in northern Thailand has been left without monks after the entire monastery was found to have been using methamphetamine, according to local officials.
Following orders to investigate drug use in Phetchabun province, the local sheriff and village headman in Bung Sam Phan subdistrict, some 240 kilometres north of Bangkok, poked around schools, factories and temples searching for drug addicts and dealers so they could be sent for rehabilitation.
“As a community leader, I was frightened because I never thought the monks would be addicted to drugs,” said Sungyut Namburi, the village headman. “I never thought that drugs would spread to temples.”
Thousands of Thai Buddhist monks chant during lantern lighting to celebrate Makha Bucha day, at the Wat Phra Dhammakaya Temple in Pathum Thani province, on the outskirts of Bangkok.Credit:EPA
Monks are revered figures in Thai culture. In Bangkok’s metro system, seats are reserved for them alongside pregnant and elderly individuals. Particularly in rural areas outside of Bangkok, monks are trusted advisers, often serving as counsellors and role models to the community.
So it was much to Sungyut’s surprise that all four monks in one small temple tested positive for methamphetamine use when he and the sheriff paid a visit to the monastery on Friday. At another small temple, two monks tested positive, he said.
But the writing was on the wall: the monks’ personality and behaviour gave them away as drug users, Sungyut said. Some villagers had tipped him off, telling him to check on temples in the community.
Even the abbot – the head of the monastery, who had served as a monk for 10 years – was found to be using drugs. “When I inspected the abbot’s shelter, I was stunned because it was a mess,” Sungyut said. After the drug tests came back positive, he said, the monks confessed to using drugs. Some of them admitted to being longtime addicts.
The scandal in Phetchabun province comes amid a nationwide crackdown on drugs following a mass killing at a daycare centre in October that left 38 dead, most of them children. The suspect, an ex-police officer, was reported to have been dismissed from the force for methamphetamine possession.
Read more here.
Beach Energy has increased its bid for Perth basin gas play Warrego Energy by 25 per cent to fend off an off-market offer from Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Energy in an escalating battle for a slice of a promising gas field north of Perth.
The bidding war kicked off three weeks ago when Warrego’s equal partner in the West Erregulla field Strike Energy revealed an all-scrip offer with an implied price of about 19 cents a share.
Gina Rinehart and Kerry Stokes are among those battling for control of Warrego Energy.Credit:Getty Images/Phillip Gostelow
Beach Energy, which owns half the nearby Waitsia field, responded the next day with a 20-cents-a- share cash offer that valued Warrego at $246 million.
Warrego’s board quickly accepted the deal from the Adelaide-based company, 30 per cent owned by WA billionaire Kerry Stokes, unless a superior proposal appeared. That happened on Wednesday when Hancock Energy which has no current interests in the Perth Basin offered 23 cents a share.
Beach Energy responded on Friday morning by increasing its offer to 25 cents a share.
At stake is a promising gas field that can quickly be brought into production without controversial hydraulic fracturing to supply a market that many expect to tighten in coming years after decades of relatively low prices due to enforced supply from WA’s huge gas export projects.
An added bonus would be the opportunity to export gas through Woodside’s underutilised North West Shelf LNG plant, but that would require an exemption from the McGowan Government’s ban on the export of onshore gas.
Read more here.
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