Keating says Pelosi’s reported Taiwan trip could lead to

Paul Keating blasts planned Nancy Pelosi visit to Taiwan as ‘foolish, dangerous’

Former prime minister Paul Keating has slammed a planned visit to Taiwan by US house speaker Nancy Pelosi as a “reckless and provocative act” that would be “foolish, dangerous and unnecessary”.

In a statement just released, Keating said:

US House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi – the third-ranked figure in the American hierarchy – is reported to be planning a visit to Taiwan, despite the urging of Administration officials from her own party. It is hard to imagine a more reckless and provocative act.

Across the political spectrum, no observer of the cross-straits relationship between China and Taiwan doubts that such a visit by the Speaker of the American Congress may degenerate into military hostilities.

If the situation is misjudged or mishandled, the outcome for the security, prosperity and order of the region and the world (and above all for Taiwan) would be catastrophic.

A visit by Pelosi would be unprecedented – foolish, dangerous and unnecessary to any cause other than her own.

Over decades, countries like the United States and Australia have taken the only realistic option available on cross-straits relations. We encourage both sides to manage the situation in a way that ensures that the outcome for a peaceful resolution is always available.

But that requires a contribution from us – calm, clear and sensitive to the messages being sent. A visit by Pelosi would threaten to trash everything that has gone before.

When the United States has a divided foreign policy on an issue of such grave importance, the world begins a slide onto very thin ice.

You can read more about that planned visit here:

US Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

Key events

That’s it for today, thanks for reading

Here are the main stories on Monday, 25 July:

  • The former prime minister Scott Morrison will miss the first week of the new parliament because of a visit to Japan;
  • Another former PM, Paul Keating, slams a planned visit to Taiwan by US house speaker Nancy Pelosi as a “reckless and provocative act” that would be “foolish, dangerous and unnecessary”;
  • Parcels are being checked for foot-and-mouth disease but the Australian government says the border should not shut, despite calls from the Coalition;
  • Senator David Pocock calls for ‘climate trigger’ in environment laws ahead of new parliament opening;
  • Crossbench MPs including Zali Steggall, Dai Le, Kate Chaney, Sophie Scamps, Kylea Tink, and Zoe Daniel met the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, this morning to discuss cuts to their office staffing, but left empty handed;
  • Albanese also addressed caucus ahead of the first sitting day tomorrow; and
  • Australia records 32 Covid deaths and more than 35,000 cases.

We will see you here tomorrow for all the action from parliament and across the country. Enjoy the rest of your night.

Victorian government names alternate planning minister

AAP reports on the fairly odd way the Andrews government is seeking to avoid conflicts arising from the planning minister having a brother who is a prominent lobbyist:

The Victorian government has appointed another minister to rule on cases connected to a lobbying firm with family ties to the state’s planning minister.

Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio will rule on matters involving Hawker Britton, whose director John-Paul Blandthorn is the brother of planning minister Lizzie Blandthorn.

Hawker Britton’s clients include construction giant John Holland, tasked with building the West Gate Tunnel, Mirvac, the Dennis Family Corporation and Melbourne Airport.

Blandthorn was given decision-making powers on planning permits and land rezoning following her appointment as planning minister last month, in a sweeping cabinet reshuffle ahead of the November state election.

In response to potential or perceived conflicts of interest, the Andrews government announced an alternate minister would be delegated for matters linked to Hawker Britton but did not confirm who would fill the role until Monday.

Opposition planning spokesman, Ryan Smith, said the situation remains “unworkable” despite Blandthorn’s exclusion, and called for the premier to immediately appoint a planning minister capable of performing the role.

“Victoria’s planning and construction sectors deserve certainty and consistency in decision making,” he said in a statement.

Blandthorn’s office has been contacted for comment.

Lizzie Blandthorn
Victorian minister for planning, Lizzie Blandthorn Photograph: Diego Fedele/AAP

Paul Keating blasts planned Nancy Pelosi visit to Taiwan as ‘foolish, dangerous’

Former prime minister Paul Keating has slammed a planned visit to Taiwan by US house speaker Nancy Pelosi as a “reckless and provocative act” that would be “foolish, dangerous and unnecessary”.

In a statement just released, Keating said:

US House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi – the third-ranked figure in the American hierarchy – is reported to be planning a visit to Taiwan, despite the urging of Administration officials from her own party. It is hard to imagine a more reckless and provocative act.

Across the political spectrum, no observer of the cross-straits relationship between China and Taiwan doubts that such a visit by the Speaker of the American Congress may degenerate into military hostilities.

If the situation is misjudged or mishandled, the outcome for the security, prosperity and order of the region and the world (and above all for Taiwan) would be catastrophic.

A visit by Pelosi would be unprecedented – foolish, dangerous and unnecessary to any cause other than her own.

Over decades, countries like the United States and Australia have taken the only realistic option available on cross-straits relations. We encourage both sides to manage the situation in a way that ensures that the outcome for a peaceful resolution is always available.

But that requires a contribution from us – calm, clear and sensitive to the messages being sent. A visit by Pelosi would threaten to trash everything that has gone before.

When the United States has a divided foreign policy on an issue of such grave importance, the world begins a slide onto very thin ice.

You can read more about that planned visit here:

US Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

Josh Taylor

Josh Taylor

Two high-profile retailers pause use of facial recognition technology in stores

Kmart and Bunnings have paused the use of facial recognition technology in their stores, amid an investigation from Australia’s privacy regulator.

Consumer group Choice last month revealed Bunnings and Kmart were using the technology – which captures images of people’s faces from video cameras as a unique faceprint that is then stored and can be compared with other faceprints – in what the companies say is a move to protect customers and staff and reduce theft in select stores.

The two companies are now being investigated by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) over their use of the technology and whether it is consistent with privacy laws.

The full story is here:

Amy mentioned this earlier, but worth noting again just how bad Sydney Airport is:

Caroline Kennedy says ‘many’ Aukus announcements to come

AAP has this report, adding to the news we brought you earlier regarding the incoming US ambassador to Australia, Caroline Kennedy:

The newly minted United States ambassador to Australia has hinted further announcements on the trilateral AUKUS security alliance are imminent.

Caroline Kennedy handed over her credentials to the governor general in Canberra on Monday where she hosted the US embassy’s first Indigenous welcome to country and smoking ceremony.

Kennedy is due to meet with prime minister Anthony Albanese on Wednesday.
“The United States and Australia are the closest allies,” she told reporters after the ceremony.

“I’m really looking forward to meeting the prime minister. I haven’t met him yet.
“I know (Mr Albanese) had a great meeting with President Biden so I’m looking to follow up on that and see what can best do to advance our shared goals.”

Kennedy also pre-empted further announcements on the Aukus alliance between Australia, the US and the UK when asked about what message she would be bringing to the prime minister.

“There are many announcements that are going to be coming in the coming weeks, so I think it’s best to let those unfold,” she said when asked about the alliance.

Upon her arrival on Friday, Kennedy admitted the US needs to take up a greater role in the region, as Washington renews its national security strategy in the Indo-Pacific.

“China certainly has a big presence here in the region,” she said after landing.

“The US needs to do more. We’re putting our embassies back in and the Peace Corps is coming, and USAID is coming back.

“It’s certainly a big focus now. This is a critical area in the region.”

The ambassador also confirmed she would be travelling to Solomon Islands with US deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman at the end of next week.

Caroline Kennedy
United States ambassador to Australia, Caroline Kennedy, speaks to the media at the US Embassy in Canberra. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Thank you Amy Remeikis, who as we all know would NEVER miss a parliamentary sitting week.

Nino Bucci assures me he is like a coiled spring, ready to take the blog for the evening.

Mike Bowers (who is at the War Memorial for the Last Post ceremony because he never stops) and I will be back tomorrow morning for the opening of the 47th Parliament.

Until then, check back on the site for updates and we will see you back for Politics Live very soon.

Take care of you.

Peter Hannam

Peter Hannam

Market moves on clean energy bid

While there’s understandable interest in the Albanese government’s climate negotiations with the Greens and new independent (and teal-tinged) ACT senator David Pocock, financial markets are making their own moves.

Shares of Genex Energy gained almost half (44%) in value today after Atlassian co-founder and tech billionaire Scott Farquhar and his wife, Kim Jackson, made a takeover bid for the developer of a pumped-hydro scheme in an old gold mine in Queensland.

The bid, which includes Stonepeak (“a leading alternative investment firm specialising in infrastructure and real assets”), is 70% above the “last undisturbed closing price” of Genex on Friday of 13.5 cents. Compared with the previous month’s average share price, the offer is almost double.

Farquhar and Jackson’s Skip Essential Infrastructure Fund were already shareholders of Genex prior to snapping up a share of just shy of 20% of the ASX-listed company.

Much like his co-founder buddy at Atlassian, Mike Cannon-Brookes, Farquhar has been tipping his toe in the post-fossil fuel world. Skip and Stonepeak, according to a statement, are “passionate about achieving a successful transition to a renewable energy-powered future”.

(MCB’s most prominent move in this space has been his tilt to takeover AGL Energy, Australia’s biggest electricity generator and (reported) greenhouse gas emitter. Mike foiled AGL’s demerger plan and apparently is lying low while the company gets a new chairman.)

Farquhar is a lot less active on social media than Mike but we can’t help wonder at this last tweet that Scott ‘liked’:

Octopuses have shown high levels of intelligence, and the ability to use trial-and-error problem-solving. If part of an octopus intelligence is distributed in its arms, watch this one gathering data with them to open a jar [source, full video: https://t.co/XFvv6knbpD] pic.twitter.com/igcoagX2cs

— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) July 7, 2022

Still, Atlassian is keen to make it clear that Jackson, not Farquhar, is leading the bid. It’s apparently “very much in her wheelhouse” and taps into Jackson’s extensive experience in infrastructure.

Scott Farquhar
Co-founder of Atlassian, Scott Farquhar. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

The traditional Last Post ceremony at the Australian War Memorial is being held. It is held every day, but the one before a new parliament is a little different as the MPs attend. Anthony Albanese and Peter Dutton will both lay wreaths.

Well it looks like agriculture minister Murray Watt has the support of the National Farmers’ Federation over not closing the Australian-Indonesian border:

Extraordinary attack from Nationals leader David Littleproud on @NationalFarmers for daring to question his record on biosecurity & his border hysteria. Unlike the Opposition, we will work with industry to keep FMD out, not just play politics & endanger ag trade. pic.twitter.com/xv7RiObKAU

— Senator Murray Watt (@MurrayWatt) July 25, 2022

🤷‍♀️😂 He seemed to think we were representative a couple of months ago 🤔 (except when we were pushing for the national bio-security strategy or more $$ for bio-security that is …😉)

— Fiona Simson (@afsnsw) July 25, 2022

Adam Morton

Adam Morton

Alok Sharma visits Canberra

Alok Sharma, the British Conservative cabinet minister who was president of last year’s Cop26 UN climate conference in Glasgow, is in Canberra today as part of his global advocacy role for stronger action that lives up to the 2015 Paris agreement.

He met with several members of the Albanese government – the defence minister and deputy prime minister, Richard Marles, the climate change minister, Chris Bowen, and assistant climate change minister, Jenny McAllister – and visited the city’s Stirling Park for a private tour of cultural and ecological sites with Ngunnawal guides.

At a press conference in the park, he told journalists his key message was:

I very much welcome the fact that Australia is back on the frontline in the fight against climate change.

While Sharma described the government’s 2030 target of a 43% cut below 2005 levels as a “great start”, he added: “I think there’s an opportunity to build on this.”

Noting the ongoing wildfires in Britain, Europe and the US, and Australia’s own experience with fire and floods, he said:

We can no longer say that climate change is something that happens to other people. It doesn’t recognise borders and that’s why we need all of humanity to act together on this most vital issue.

He was also asked about Australia’s hopes of hosting a major climate summit in partnership with Pacific countries and what other countries would expect from it if it was successful. He replied:

When you do become the host and you ask others to show ambition they in turn very politely ask you to explain what your level of ambition is. I spent a large part of 2020 talking to countries, explaining to them that they’ve got to show more ambition and I was always asked what was the UK’s 2030 emissions reduction target.

Britain’s target is a 68% cut by 2030 compared with 1990 levels. It is equivalent to a 63% cut below 2005 levels.

Alok Sharma
Alok Sharma is a British MP who served as president of COP26. Photograph: David Levenson/Getty Images

US ambassador to Australia welcomed to Ngunnawal country

A smoking ceremony has been held at the US embassy to welcome Caroline Kennedy to Ngunnawal country.

The ambassador gave a few remarks at the end:

This is really one of the most important days of my life, to become, officially, the United States’ ambassador to Australia, and to be here on this Ngunnawal land.

And to mark this moment with a ceremony that carries so much significance makes me feel a great deal of responsibility and strengthens my commitment to work to strengthen the bonds between our nations and our peoples.

You here represent the oldest civilisation on Earth, and I think that the traditions and values and cultures that you have passed on and are passing on really have so much to teach the rest of us as we seek to reconcile our differences in this fractured world and face the great challenge of caring for our environment. So I’m grateful that you’re here today as I begin this new chapter.

The United States and Australia are the closest of allies, and we are global partners working for peace and stability, health security, and economic prosperity and opportunity in this region and beyond.

And so, during my time as ambassador, my husband and I look forward to meeting as many Australians and First Nations peoples as we can, and learning from the next generation how we can all pass on a more just and peaceful and healthy world to our children. So, thank you, all, very much for coming.

And thank you all for conducting this ceremony and for explaining this – I will keep this with me during my time here.

Territory rights bill to be introduced next week

Josh Butler

Josh Butler

A bill to overturn a federal ban on the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory from making their own laws on voluntary assisted dying will be introduced to parliament next Monday.

The private member’s bill, on territory rights, was agreed in the Labor caucus room meeting today. Member for Solomon, Luke Gosling, will introduce the bill in the House of Representatives and the chamber will debate it for several hours.

Labor will give members a conscience vote on the issue.

What is a conscience vote?

A conscience vote is basically a free vote that allows members of parliament to vote according to their personal beliefs – that is, not having to vote along the lines of their political party. (However, the choice lies with each party as to whether they will allow their members a conscience vote.)

These votes are usually used for social issues like abortion and euthanasia.

Liberal MPs are supposed to always have the right to vote on their conscience (it is one of the main differences in the party structures) but very rarely do.

Your questions answered: who is the Speaker of the House?

Rafqa Touma

Rafqa Touma

After a federal election and the official opening of parliament, the Speaker of the House of Representatives is chosen in a secret vote. They are members nominated by the government, and are expected to treat all members equally.

The Speaker doesn’t usually contribute to debates, and they don’t vote unless there is a tie. They act like a chairperson – running House of Representatives meetings and making sure standing orders (rules) are obeyed.

Over in the senate, that role is played by the president.

You may have seen people “dragged” to the chair. Not in the “drag them” sense, but the successful nominee does pretend to be quite reluctant about taking up the role.

The parliament website describes it thusly:

The custom had its origin in the genuine reluctance with which early Speakers accepted the office, for the role of spokesman for an emerging body of legislators bent on opposing the royal will was a dangerous occupation … Until discontinued by Speaker Onslow in 1728 it was the custom for the Speaker-elect to struggle with his proposer and seconder, resisting every inch of the way to the Chair with the result that he was literally dragged to it.

Now, they just get an extra $159,000 or so on top of their backbench salary for their trouble.

Why do MPs sometimes hold papers over their heads?

Sometimes members of parliament hold a piece of paper above their heads when talking and it looks a bit odd.

It comes from tradition in the British parliament, where members would either put on a hat or cover their head with a paper to get the Speaker’s attention when it got loud in the chamber during division vote time (when bells ring and people move around).

We don’t actually have anything in the Australian Senate or House of Representatives rules making the paper-over-head thing official. Instead, discussion about a division vote is supposed to come after the bells.

Nonetheless, some Australian members of parliament have a thing about British tradition, and so continue to cover their heads to speak during a division to speak.

Greens leader says legislation should not ‘put obstacles in the way’ of lifting emissions reductions target in future

Adam Bandt has also spoken to the ABC about the upcoming climate legislation and going further than the 43% target:

If legislation put in place an obstacle on that, if the legislation says you have to come back to parliament to change the law before you can lift your target, that would be an obstacle that at the moment a current government doesn’t have.

Our point is if we are going to legislate targets, don’t put obstacles in the way of future governments that might be prepared to listen to the [science on this] and have ambitious targets.

Berita Anda