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Thanks for joining us for today’s live coverage, here’s a rundown of the news in case you missed it:
I hope you have a lovely weekend, we’ll be back with more live news on Monday morning.
Victorians could soon have its largest crossbench in decades as voters disenchanted with the major parties threaten to elect an unprecedented number of independents and Greens to the state’s lower house.
With polls pointing to either a reduced majority or minority Labor government, pollsters and commentators agree on one thing — the likelihood of more Greens and independents in the Legislative Assembly.
Early voting opened in Victoria on Monday, November 14.Credit:Joe Armao
“Based on current polling and guesstimates we are looking at a crossbench of unprecedented scale in the modern era,” Monash University’s Professor Paul Strangio said on Friday.
“We are looking at a crossbench of perhaps as many as a dozen, comprising independents and possibly five or six Greens.”
The current crossbench includes three Greens (the seats of Melbourne, Brunswick and Prahran) and county independents Suzanna Sheed (Shepparton) and Ali Cupper (Mildura).
Boosted by the Liberals’ decision to preference them ahead of Labor, the Greens are favoured by pollsters and pundits to take the once safe Labor seats of Richmond and Northcote while Albert Park, Footscray and Pascoe Vale are considered possible but less likely Green gains.
Both major parties are being challenged in heartland seats with Labor struggling to hold outer western suburban Melton in particular from independent Dr Ian Birchall, while clouds hang over Point Cook and treasurer Tim Pallas’ seat of Werribee.
Read more here.
A long-running industrial dispute that has crippled Sydney’s rail network for months is close to being resolved after the state government signed a deal committing it to modifications to a new multibillion-dollar train fleet.
NSW Transport Minister David Elliott said the government and rail union had reached a breakthrough on Friday afternoon, after the state agreed to sign a deed to modify the mothballed intercity train fleet.
Elliott, who appeared at the Fair Work Commission on Friday, said the rail union would withdraw all industrial action. “We have agreement. The new intercity deed has been signed. The union will withdraw all industrial action … peace,” he said.
Read the full report here.
NSW Transport Minister David Elliott.Credit:Rhett Wyman
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet says the Liberal Party will find a pathway for Melanie Gibbons to stay in parliament after the sitting MP lost her preselection battle for the south-west Sydney seat of Holsworthy.
The blow for Gibbons comes after she was urged by former prime minister Scott Morrison to run for the federal seat of Hughes, but then convinced to give up her Canberra ambitions so that she did not put her safe NSW seat at risk.
Holsworthy MP Melanie Gibbons lost preselection for her seat on Thursday night.Credit:Brook Mitchell
Perrottet enticed Gibbons to stay in state politics by promising her a cabinet spot but the minister-in-waiting was forced out of the lower house after 11 years following a preselection loss on Thursday night to Tina Ayyad, who is married to Liverpool mayor Ned Mannoun.
Her defeat adds to the dilemmas facing Perrottet, who in August told the Liberals’ state council that the party needed to learn from its calamitous federal election loss by selecting more women and avoiding drawn-out preselection battles.
“I want more women, more diversity, and the best talent for our future,” he said as he unveiled a plan to open preselections within two weeks.
But, four months later, the Liberal Party risks going backwards with female MP numbers, and preselections in some key seats are yet to be sorted.
Preselection for the plum Liberal seat of Castle Hill appears unresolved, with hard-right hopeful Noel McCoy yet to receive a green light from the party’s powerful nomination review committee.
Read more here.
The agency in charge of employing hundreds of apprentices involved in Victoria’s “big build” government projects is being investigated over providing funds to unions against the wishes of a public servant, and reports that people who voiced concerns about internal problems were bullied by senior managers.
Whistleblowers within Apprenticeships Victoria have also raised concerns that the organisation was failing its mission to recruit 1500 apprentices a year for major projects in a bid to meet a government promise made in 2020. The government responded that the organisation had recruited 600 apprentices by late 2022, and the 1500 recruitment target was always designed to be over three years.
Premier Daniel Andrews and Jacinta Allan tour Arden Station, which will become part of the Metro Tunnel.Credit:Eddie Jim
The Age has confirmed that Apprenticeships Victoria – which is run by the Department of Education – is the subject of an investigation by law firm Lander & Rogers.
One of the concerns raised by whistleblowers relates to funds granted to Victoria’s Trades Hall Council. The peak body for Victorian unions has been promised more than $1.1 million over two years to run a program teaching apprentices about their rights at work.
One bureaucrat refused to sign off on the funding because they believed it did not provide value for money and was designed to please the Labor-linked union group, two of the sources claimed. Another Apprentices Victoria official later approved the grant.
The Trades Hall grant was requested to pay for union outreach workers to be placed in TAFEs to provide advice to apprentices. The union body requested $3 million, but a final payment of more than $1.1 million was approved. The first batch of funding has not yet been paid.
Read more here.
The high-profile lawyer who represented Torres Strait Islander man Eddie Koiki Mabo in his historic land rights victory says proposed Northern Territory laws that would allow gas companies to use or sell fracked gas found during exploration could contravene native title laws.
Environmentalists have criticised the territory government’s proposed bill as allowing “production by stealth”. They say the gas industry would be able to use or sell methane obtained during “appraisal” activities without needing to secure a production licence or negotiate with traditional owners and pastoralists.
An exploratory gas well on Tanumbirini Station in the Beetaloo Basin in the Northern Territory.Credit:Justin McManus
The government says the law change would allow companies to use appraisal-phase gas to power local communities, rather than having it vented or burnt at the point of extraction.
Barrister Greg McIntyre, who represented Mabo in the historic High Court win that overturned the doctrine of “terra nullius” and recognised land rights of First Nations people, said the approval being sought under the proposed legislation would be a “future act” within the meaning of the Native Title Act.
This means traditional owners should have a right to negotiate, and if these provisions were ignored then any application to mine for gas would be invalid.
“I suspect that the lightbulb hasn’t turned on and … the government hasn’t obtained advice about whether it might impact on the Native Title Act,” McIntyre said.
Read more here.
COVID-19 cases across Australia may be peaking, but health experts are urging people not to be complacent.
Queensland recorded 10,082 new COVID cases in the week between November 17 and 23, slightly fewer cases than the 10,106 cases recorded in the previous seven-day period.
Hospitalisations rose again from 245 to 312, while serious cases in the ICU also rose from five to eight, and 14 people died over the seven-day period.
The rise in active cases represents only an 8 per cent jump from the previous week, compared with a 73 per cent increase between November 9 and 16.
Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard said the case numbers suggest the current wave may be reaching a peak.
Victoria’s COVID-19 cases rose 22.2 per cent compared to the same time last week, with 483 COVID-19 patients in Victorian hospitals, including 19 in intensive care.
A total of 68 COVID-related deaths were reported in the past week, but there has been a 30.5 per cent decrease in the number of COVID-related deaths compared to the last month.
There were 22,281 COVID-19 cases reported in Victoria this week, an increase of 9.5 per cent on the previous week. The average daily number of new cases this week was 3,183, up from 2,914 last week.
University of Sydney infectious diseases specialist Professor Robert Booy said the decline in testing and overall complacency was a concern for future management of the virus.
“Testing earlier means people can seek medical advice sooner and can access anti-viral medicines faster if they are eligible,” Booy said.
“Recent federal government data has shown COVID-19 still poses a very real risk to the health of our communities as we move into a new wave of infections, specifically to those at higher risk of serious illness.”
In NSW, there are 1320 people with COVID-19 in hospitals, 32 of them in ICU.
In the seven days to 4pm on Thursday, November 24, 31,531 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded and 25 lives were lost.
In the ACT there were 1757 new cases detected this week and in WA 10,520 new cases were recorded.
Former High Court judge Dyson Heydon has resigned as a member of the Order of Australia.
His resignation was noted in the Government Gazette on Friday and signed by Governor-General David Hurley’s official secretary Paul Singer.
Former High Court judge Dyson Heydon was investigated for sexual harassment. Credit:Andrew Meares
Heydon served on the High Court from 2003 until 2013.
In June 2020, the High Court publicly apologised to six women after allegations of sexual harassment of them by Heydon were upheld by an independent investigator.
A settlement with three women earlier this year over harassment they were found to have suffered included an apology from the attorney-general on behalf of the government.
Heydon was appointed a companion in the general division of the Order of Australia in 2004.
Welcome to your five-minute recap of the trading day and how the experts saw it.
The numbers: The S&P/ASX 200 closed out the week with a fourth straight day of gains, closing 0.2 per cent higher to 7259.5 points with only two sectors, energy and mining, posting losses.
The lifters: Retailers took an early lead as festive sales kicked off. Harvey Norman gained 3.1 per cent to $4.30, while JB Hi-Fi was 1.9 per cent stronger to $44.81. Biotech heavyweight CSL finished the day ahead by 0.2 per cent to $299.72, while the big four banks all closed higher.
The ASX has edged higher in early trade.Credit:Louie Douvis
The laggards: Energy and mining stocks were the only sectors to dip throughout the session. BHP led the way with a drop of 0.8 per cent to $44.20.
The lowdown: Local shares eased into Friday morning with minor gains, but by lunchtime the biggest names on the bourse were showing strength as Australians took an exuberant approach to Black Friday sales.
Wall Street closed for the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, but optimism flowed across global markets after US Federal Reserve minutes pointed to smaller interest rate rises in the near future. The Australian dollar surged against the US overnight and was trading at 67.7 US cents in late afternoon trading on Friday.
Read more here.
Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus took to a closed Facebook group of some 4700 union members earlier this week with a call to arms: “We really need your urgent help.”
The post to the Union Activist Network continued, “David Pocock is being inundated with calls from business leaders and owners to gut the Bill. We are competing with the pressure they are exerting. He is literally weighing up who to disappoint – workers or business owners.”
David Pocock has received flowers from union members asking him to vote for the industrial relations bill.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen
The message finished with a plea for those recruited in the battle to win the senator’s favour. “Can you pls redouble your efforts with him?”
Occupying the balance of power in the upper house, Pocock, the former Wallabies skipper turned independent senator, is the key to fulfilling the government’s ambition of passing its controversial multiemployer bargaining reforms in time for Christmas.
While employer groups warn the changes would reel businesses into unworkable deals and expose them to a greater risk of strikes, Labor and the union movement say the suite of changes in the Secure Jobs, Better Pay bill will unlock wage increases that cannot wait as inflation soars.
Pocock – who has earned a reputation for listening to all sides – is staring down pressure to decide on the legislation as the clock runs out on the 2022 parliamentary sitting year, believing the bill should be split to immediately pass the less contentious parts such as workplace gender equality reforms.
Read more here.
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