New parliament gets to work

The Albanese government will today begin introducing a flurry of legislation to parliament, with climate change, aged care and cashless welfare reforms on the agenda for the first day of question time.

What we know:

  • Newly appointed speaker Milton Dick, a Queensland Labor MP, and the new senate president, WA Labor senator Sue Lines, will for the first time oversee parliamentary debate (Canberra Times); 
  • Members of the lower house crossbench will for the first time be given three questions rather than one to reflect their increased number after the last election;
  • In the largely ceremonial first day of parliament yesterday, all Labor, Greens and teal independents wore face masks, while almost all Liberal and Nationals MPs went without in defiance of health recommendations (The Age); 
  • Labor’s bill to enshrine a 43% emissions-reduction target by 2030 will be introduced today;
  • Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Tuesday ruled out a Greens demand for a ban on new coal and gas mines as part of the legislation, warning it would have a “devastating impact on the Australian economy” (The Guardian); 
  • Albanese asserted that such a ban would only see Australian coal replaced by alternative supplies from other countries that have higher emissions — echoing a false claim made by former prime minister Scott Morrison (AAP); 
  • Labor will also today introduce legislation to scrap the cashless debit card welfare program, which it hopes to pass by September with the support of the Greens and crossbench (The West Australian); 
  • Other priorities include bills to reform aged care, create the agency Jobs and Skills Australia, make electric cars cheaper, roll out paid domestic violence leave and crack down on inappropriate Medicare billing (Public Spectrum). 
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Pride protest leaves Manly short

The Manly Sea Eagles have been unable to name a full squad for their upcoming NRL clash, after a host of players withdrew over objections to a pride-themed jumper.

What we know:

  • Seven players will miss the Thursday night clash with the Roosters as they feel the one-off jersey, which embraces the LGBTQIA+ community, clashes with their religious and cultural beliefs (SMH); 
  • Manly coach Des Hasler backed the move to wear a rainbow jersey but expressed regret for the way the Sea Eagles communicated it to the players;
  • “They were not included in any of the discussions about the decision-making with the jersey — at a minimum they should have been consulted,” Hasler said;
  • Openly gay Manly Sea Eagles ex-player Ian Roberts said he feels outrage over the boycott, but wishes to meet with the seven players to discuss their position (SMH); 
  • Roberts also accused the NRL of ignoring his calls to hold a pride-themed round;
  • The club has only been able to name a 20-man squad, when NRL guidelines state they must name a 22-player list on Tuesday (Young Witness); 
  • James Segeyaro will play his first NRL game in more than three years, while three debutants have been called up.
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Half of Australians have had Covid

Nearly half of all adults in Australia had caught Covid-19 by early June, according to a national survey of antibodies in blood donors.

Infections have almost tripled since late February, when it was estimated to be 17%, Kirby Institute researchers found (ABC). 

The researchers examined 5139 de-identified samples from Australian blood donors aged 18 to 89 for evidence of Covid-19 antibodies.

Past infection was highest among donors in the 18 to 29 age group, at 61.7%, declining with increasing age to 25.7% in donors aged 70 to 89.

In WA alone, evidence of past infection in blood donors jumped from 0.5% to 37.5% over a three-month period.

Researchers said the study provided a more complete picture of how many infections there were in the community, as official Covid cases are likely underreported.

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Business registry’s billion dollar blowout

Labor has claimed that the cost of a Coalition plan to merge 30 business registries into one has blown out by $1bn.

Assistant treasurer Stephen Jones said an assessment of the project had come up with a cost of $1.5bn (Crikey). 

This was $1bn more than budgeted by the former Coalition government to modernise the business registration system.

“What's worse, they have known about this for quite some time — at least 12 months,” Jones said.

The system was using out-of-date technology, with potential cyber security risks.

Jones said he was seeking advice on how to manage the costs, but the project remained necessary to complete.

"You can't have a business registry that is half-finished, there is significant cyber risk and significant economic risk,” he said.

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Russia quitting space station

Russia has announced it will pull out of the International Space Station, ending a decades-long period of global collaboration in space.

Yuri Borisov, the new head of Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos told President Vladimir Putin during a meeting that “the decision to leave this station after 2024 has been made” (The Verge). 

Putin reportedly approved the plan to withdraw from the orbiting space station.

The decision came after Borisov’s predecessor, Dmitry Rogozin, had openly discussed the possibility that Russia would exit the ISS agreement amid growing tensions over the invasion of Ukraine.

Robyn Gatens, director of the International Space Station for NASA, said the US hadn’t received any official word from Russia about the decision to quit the ISS.

“The Russians, just like us, are thinking ahead to what's next for them,” Gatens said.

“As we are planning a transition after 2030 to commercially operated space stations in low earth orbit, they have a similar plan. And so they’re thinking about that transition as well.”

The intergovernmental agreement that governs the ISS partnership states that most partners must give other ISS partners at least one year’s written notice to leave.

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I know I’m early but I’m also anti-monkeypox jab.

As scientists race to understand the monkeypox virus, an even more urgent race is under way between Australian conspiracy theorists competing to boost their profile on social media (Crikey).

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Postscript: Qantas to fight foot and mouth disease by losing every piece of luggage from Indonesia

In an effort to turn around growing negative sentiment towards the airline, Qantas has been quietly doing its bit to keep foot and mouth disease out of Australia, ensuring not a single piece of luggage on flights from Bali makes its way to Australia (The Shovel).

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Max Opray is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.

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