As it happened: Scott Morrison resists calls to resign amid minister portfolio saga; governor-general’s role questioned by MPs – The Age

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Good evening, thanks for following our live coverage, here’s the main news stories from today:
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NSW will overhaul its handling of natural disasters following a scathing independent flood inquiry, which urged a major reset of emergency management in the face of increasing extreme weather events.
The Perrottet government will set up a permanent emergency operations centre, led by a new deputy police commissioner, while a new Cabinet committee of senior ministers branded Task Force Hawk will respond to any future major disasters.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said lessons from the flood crisis could not be ignored.Credit:AFR
In flood-hit Lismore on Wednesday, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said the report by former police commissioner Mick Fuller and Professor Mary O’Kane made for “hard reading”, with critical assessments of the NSW State Emergency Service and Resilience NSW.
The report also urged the creation of a land swap and buyback scheme for Northern Rivers residents and others on NSW floodplains.
However, no details on the land swap or buyback schemes were made available on Wednesday, only that expressions of interest would open at the end of August with a response before Christmas.
Back office operations of the Rural Fire Service and the State Emergency Service will be merged, and training will be made available to residents in flood-prone areas on conducting rescues using their own boats. A permanent reconstruction and disaster prevention authority will be established.
The premier acknowledged the work of the emergency agencies and their tireless volunteers and public servants during the flood crisis but said lessons could not be ignored in the face of future risks.
Read more here.
Reason Party leader Fiona Patten and a moderate Liberal fear a group of new religious conservative candidates likely to be elected at the November state election could block expanded reproductive rights for women and wind back euthanasia laws.
Patten’s bill to cut funding to religious public hospitals that refuse to offer abortion and euthanasia was voted down by Labor on Wednesday, but the upper house MP told The Age she would pursue a broader abortion reform package at the next election.
After a marathon 29-hour sitting to pass euthanasia laws in 2017, Fiona Patten stands on the seats to hug Labor’s Harriet Shing.Credit:Jason South
Patten – who played a key role in left-wing reforms allowing sick people to choose to die and drug users to inject heroin in safe locations – worries a new religious bloc in the Liberal Party and a larger group of Labor MPs from the traditionally conservative shop workers union could prevent future changes.
“We will see a more conservative Labor side and definitely a more conservative Liberal side,” she said.
When Victoria’s nation-first euthanasia laws are reviewed by parliament after the election, MPs will get the chance to make assisted dying easier or more difficult to access.
If re-elected, Patten wants to reintroduce her abortion bill next term, and will also push for debates on increasing access to abortion hubs and the expansion of prescriptions for medical abortions.
Read more here.
Gig economy companies have been cleared to keep classifying their riders as contractors rather than full employees entitled to minimum wages and protections following a major ruling by the nation’s industrial tribunal.
The ruling turns the focus to the federal government’s promise to legislate new rights for gig economy workers, a move that the powerful Labor-aligned Transport Workers Union declared was “urgent”.
Diego Franco initially won his unfair dismissal case but a series of High Court rulings resulted in it being reversed.Credit:Janie Barrett
The Fair Work Commission on Wednesday overturned a previous ruling that a Deliveroo rider, Diego Franco, was an employee and protected from unfair dismissal. Had the ruling stood, it would have likely forced Deliveroo to make massive back payments to its riders and upended the gig economy sector, which also includes firms such as Uber, DoorDash and Menulog.
While the commission found that, “as a matter of reality”, Franco’s work had the hallmarks of employment, three senior commissioners said they were bound to follow a recent High Court ruling that forced them to “close our eyes to these matters” and focus overwhelmingly on the terms of the contract between Franco and Deliveroo.
Those terms, which allowed Franco to have other riders substitute for him, let him choose his own route to the customer and required him to provide his own vehicle,made him a contractor. Firms such as Deliveroo and Uber, which declined to comment, use contractors who do not get traditional workers’ compensation or unfair dismissal rights. They do provide insurance for their riders.
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London: A law has taken effect in Scotland to ensure period products are available free of charge to anyone who needs them.
The Scottish government said it became the first in the world to legally protect the right to access free period products when its Period Products Act came into force on Monday.
The tax on and cost of period products are a constant source of debate.
Under the new law, schools, universities, libraries and local government bodies must make a range of period products, such as tampons and sanitary pads, available for free in their bathrooms. The Scottish government already invested millions of pounds since 2017 to fund free period products in educational institutions, but it is now a legal requirement.
A mobile phone app also helps people find the nearest place – such as the local library or community centre – where they can pick up period products.
“Providing access to free period products is fundamental to equality and dignity and removes the financial barriers to accessing them,” Scottish Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison said.
“This is more important than ever at a time when people are making difficult choices due to the cost of living crisis and we never want anyone to be in a position where they cannot access period products,” she added.
The bill, which was passed unanimously in 2020, was introduced by Scottish MP Monica Lennon, who had campaigned against “period poverty” (when someone who needs sanitary products can’t afford them).
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The number of temporary teachers working in NSW public schools has almost doubled in a decade as experts warn surging insecure and short-term contracts are driving graduates away from the profession.
A NSW government submission to a parliamentary inquiry into teacher shortages has revealed that 37 per cent of the full-time equivalent workforce are in temporary or casual jobs, meaning almost 26,000 are in non-permanent positions.
Figures show the number of temporary teaching positions increased more than 80 per cent from 11,695 in 2011 to 21,366 in 2021.Credit:SMH
The figures come as the expert leading the sweeping reforms in NSW teaching salaries, University of Melbourne academic John Hattie, said teachers are abandoning the classroom because they are “not getting promoted and not getting recognised” for their expertise.
“Most [teachers] in the first five years are on short-term contracts, which is not a great incentive for them to stay in the profession,” Hattie told an inquiry hearing on Wednesday.
“The major reason for leaving, at least from the work that we’ve been doing, has to do with leadership. Teachers have been assigned positions that [they’re] not comfortable with, and they are not getting promoted, not getting recognition.”
Figures show the number of temporary teaching positions increased more than 80 per cent from 11,695 in 2011 to 21,366 in 2021. In that same period, the number of permanent positions increased just one per cent from 43,845 to 44,356.
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Nairobi: Kenyan politician Raila Odinga has rejected Tuesday’s result of the presidential election he was declared to have lost to Deputy President William Ruto and warned of a long legal crisis facing the country’s democracy.
His first comments on the result came after four of the seven election commissioners said they stood by their decision a day earlier to disown figures announced by electoral commission chairman Wafula Chebukati.
Kenyan presidential candidate Raila Odinga has rejected the results of the election.Credit:AP
There have been fears of violence similar to what followed the disputed polls in East Africa’s richest country in 2007, when more than 1200 people were killed, and again in 2017, when more than 100 people died.
Overnight, Odinga’s supporters battled police and burnt tyres in the western city of Kisumu and the capital Nairobi’s huge Kibera slum, but calm had returned to the streets by morning.
“Our view is that the figures announced by Chebukati are null and void and must be quashed by a court of law,” said Odinga, a veteran opposition leader and five-time presidential candidate who was backed this time by outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“What we saw yesterday was a travesty,” he told reporters.
However, he appealed to his supporters to remain peaceful.
“Let no one take the law into their own hands,” he said.
Read more here.
The Australian sharemarket recovered to finish higher for the third day in a row, up 0.31 per cent after results from CSL and Santos weighed down the market early.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index dipped in the morning, brought down by falls in the energy and healthcare sectors, but finished 22.30 points up at 7127.70 to record a new 10-week high.
The ASX has recovered from an early dip to post a third day of gains.Credit:AP
CSL finished 1.32 per cent weaker at $292.50 after dropping as low as $278.89 during the day’s trading. The biotech giant reported a fall in profits and said it was behind schedule in plasma-collections growth.
Falling global oil prices continued to drag down energy producers such as Santos, which fell 2.40 per cent despite recording a huge increase in half-year profit.
Read more here.
An audit of Australia’s coronavirus vaccination rollout has criticised the slow speed at which early doses were administered, blaming poor planning for low levels of community protection when the virus locked down most of the country last year.
In a report released on Wednesday, the Australian National Audit Office found planning and implementation of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout was “partly effective”, noting it became increasingly successful over time.
Then-prime minister Scott Morrison receives the first COVID-19 vaccines in Australia with aged care resident Jane Malysiak.Credit:Edwina Pickles
Overall, early targets for vaccination were missed, the audit found. Despite then-prime minister Scott Morrison’s promise to have completed the vaccine rollout by October 2021, only 55 per cent of Australians aged 16 and over had received two doses of a vaccine by then, and NSW and Victoria were in the process of exiting four months of continuous lockdown restrictions.
By the end of that month, 77 per cent of eligible people were double-dosed. Today, the figure is 96 per cent of people aged 16 and over, with 68 per cent having received at least three doses.
The audit found timelines for vaccinating aged care and disability services residents, as well as the Indigenous population, were not met despite these groups being identified for early doses.
It said the department “underestimated the magnitude and complexity” of rolling out vaccinations to residential aged care homes and disability services through third-party providers, such as Aspen Medical, and “did not engage sufficient providers early in the rollout”.
Aged care vaccinations were scheduled to be completed by the end of April 2021 but, in reality, most facilities did not receive their second-dose clinic until June that year.
The audit also found the department’s target of vaccinating 80 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 2021 was not met. At present, about 82 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have received two doses, after the target was reached in late March.
Read more here.
Governor-General David Hurley says questions about former prime minister Scott Morrison’s secret ministry appointments are not his to answer and has deflected them to the previous government.
In a statement, Hurley said he is “content for the process that the prime minister [Anthony Albanese] has put in place to be completed” and will not comment further.
Then-prime minister Scott Morrison with Governor-General David Hurley in 2019.Credit:Getty
“The governor-general acted on the advice of the government of the day, consistent with the principle of responsible government (in which ministers are responsible to the parliament, and through them to the Australian people, for the advice that they provide to the governor-general),” he said.
“Any questions around secrecy after the governor-general had acted on the advice of the government of the day are a matter for the previous government.
“It is not the responsibility of the governor-general to advise the broader ministry or parliament (or public) of administrative changes of this nature. The governor-general had no reason to believe that appointments would not be communicated.”
Appointments of ministers or adding responsibilities over other departments are recommendations made, in writing, by the prime minister to the governor-general, he said.
“The governor-general signs an instrument to act on the advice of the government of the day. The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is responsible for that process.”
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