Politics with Michelle Grattan
Politics with Michelle Grattan: Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus on the National Anti-Corruption Commission

Politics with Michelle Grattan: Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus on the National Anti-Corruption Commission

September 29, 2022

The government has introduced its legislation for the National Anti-Corruption Commission, which has received the endorsement of opposition leader Peter Dutton and so is assured of passage through parliament.

But critics are unhappy that its public hearings will be limited to when there are “exceptional circumstances”. Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus in this podcast strongly rejects the argument this is too high a hurdle.

The government has yet to nominate a head of the powerful new body, and Dreyfus says it is open to suggestions. Asked if he has anyone particularly in mind he says, “No I do not. […] We’re going to be trying to find someone who’s eminent, who has a real standing in the community.”

On the question of so-called “grey corruption”, notably misuse of ministerial discretion in grants schemes, Dreyfus stresses it will be completely up to the commission to decide what might justify investigation.

Ukraine ambassador urges Australian embassy in Kyiv to reopen ASAP

Ukraine ambassador urges Australian embassy in Kyiv to reopen ASAP

September 23, 2022

The Ukraine conflict has escalated this week, with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin announcing a partial military mobilisation and once again raising the threat of nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile Ukraine has been pressing Australia to provide another 30 Bushmasters, after those already helping the war effort are proving very effective.

In this podcast Ukraine’s ambassador Vasyl Myroshnychenko urges the Albanese government to reopen Australia’s embassy in his country as soon as possible.

“By now 60 different countries have sent their embassies and ambassadors back to Kyiv. And I think it’s important for Australia to go back because if Bruce Edwards [the ambassador, now stationed in Poland] is on the ground, he’s capable of meeting people there and interacting with the minister of defence, with the minister of foreign affairs, with other stakeholders in Ukraine, to provide a better feedback to Canberra.”

Professor Joseph Ibrahim on COVID in aged care - and the end of nursing homes

Professor Joseph Ibrahim on COVID in aged care - and the end of nursing homes

September 15, 2022

Joseph Ibrahim, Professor and Head, Health Law and Ageing Research Unit, Monash University, specialises in aged care issues. He has been a long-term advocate for improving the quality of life for those in residential care and for reform of the sector.

In this podcast, Ibrahim says currently COVID in aged care facilities is going largely unnoticed in the media. “If you have a look into the media coverage it would seem that it’s not a problem at all. [But] COVID deaths are far greater than at any time in the last two to three years”. While the vaccines have helped get things under control, the absence of restrictions is seeing infection rates at an all-time high. Ibrahim believes there should be a more tailored approach to outbreaks at facilities, depending on the circumstances.

Simon Holmes à Court on ’community candidates’ and two state elections

Simon Holmes à Court on ’community candidates’ and two state elections

September 8, 2022

Simon Holmes à Court and his Climate 200, the body that provided funding for “teal” and some other independent candidates who promoted action on climate change, integrity and women’s issues, had great success at the federal election. But will community candidates become a big force in November’s Victorian poll and the March NSW election?

In this podcast, Holmes à Court talks about the “enthusiasm” from the community independents movement about the desertion by voters of the major parties, and the mobilisation already under way in various areas to get behind candidates. But he stresses there will be new challenges to face in the two state campaigns. A major one is the more restrictive arrangements around funding, compared with the federal election.

Community independents in the state elections will target frustrations in their local areas, but climate change and integrity will be strong themes of their campaigns. “In Victoria, our polling shows that climate is very high [in voters’ minds] and people are frustrated with the pace of change in some of the Andrews government’s actions there - we have the dirtiest grid in the country and a less certain plan for phasing out coal than New South Wales, for example”.

Federally, teal candidates ran in Liberal seats. In Victoria, where there is a long-time Labor government, can we expect to see strong community independents also in Labor seats?

“There is talk in Victoria that there might be some independents or minor parties challenging more in the outer suburbs and putting a lot of heat on the Andrews government, responding to the frustrations in those communities.”

Treasurer Chalmers on boosting migration and a ’resilience’ budget

Treasurer Chalmers on boosting migration and a ’resilience’ budget

August 30, 2022

For Treasurer Jim Chalmers, this week's jobs and skills summit is the prelude to what will be his main game, the October budget. 

The summit, to be held in Canberra on Thursday and Friday, still has many moving parts, notably in the intense debate we're hearing about what changes should be made to the wages system. But Chalmers can already welcome "a broad appetite" for raising permanent migration from the present cap of 160,000.

David Littleproud on charting his course in opposition

David Littleproud on charting his course in opposition

August 25, 2022

David Littleproud runs his own race. In opposition he’s Nationals leader first and Coalitionist second. Thus he was quick out of the blocks criticising Scott Morrison’s power grab, and when Peter Dutton rejected an invitation to next week’s jobs and skills summit, Littleproud said he wanted to go.

In this Podcast Littleproud says about the government’s planned inquiry into Morrison’s actions: “I’m happy to work within whatever the constraints of what the government decides, that’s their prerogative. But it just seems to me this has now become an obsession of Anthony Albanese.”

Of the conflicting signals from the opposition about the jobs summit, Littleproud says: “We’re two separate parties. I represent the National Party and Peter Dutton represents the Liberal Party. He made a decision on behalf of the Liberal Party that he would not attend.”

He’s scathing that the Nationals were not originally invited. “The fact that this government didn’t even bother to ask anyone from regional and rural Australia to represent their interests was a failing to start with.”

Word from The Hill: Morrison faces inquiry into how he flouted responsible government

Word from The Hill: Morrison faces inquiry into how he flouted responsible government

August 23, 2022

As well as her interviews with politicians and experts, Politics with Michelle Grattan includes “Word from The Hill”, where she discusses the news with members of The Conversation politics team.

In this podcast, politics editor Amanda Dunn and Michelle discuss the solicitor-general’s advice on Scott Morrison’s secret appointment to multiple ministries, which flouted “responsible government”. Morrison’s action will now be scrutinised by an inquiry.

They also canvass next week’s jobs and skills summit, where the government will be seeking agreement on immigration and improving industrial relations.

Crossbencher Helen Haines on Morrison and integrity

Crossbencher Helen Haines on Morrison and integrity

August 18, 2022

The revelation that Scott Morrison secretly had himself appointed to five separate portfolios has triggered widespread outrage, just when the broader question of integrity has been a big political issue.

In this podcast, Michelle Grattan speaks with Independent member for Indi Helen Haines, who has pushed for a national integrity commission. Such a body will soon be legislated by the Albanese government.

Haines strongly condemns Morrison’s behaviour, although she doesn’t see it as the sort of matter that would go to an integrity commission. “It doesn’t appear apparent to me that there are questions here of corruption. But we don’t know really what motivated the prime minister to keep all of this a secret.”

Haines says an Anti-Corruption Commission needs to have the capacity to investigate what has been dubbed “grey” corruption, such as jobs for the boys and pork barrelling.

 

She argues that “public money being spent for political gain through so-called rorting or pork barrelling is potentially corruption.”

“These bodies are seeking to stamp out corruption and they are seeking to shine a light in dark places. Now, in shining that light, they may well determine that there’s nothing to be seen.

"But on the other hand, they may well find that there are practices which have been accepted as kind of matey and okay that in fact lead to poor governance, that lead to poor public policy, that lead to an erosion of trust in our leaders.”

“There needs to be a pathway that communities can see is fair and just. [So] that if you need a hospital in your electorate (as indeed I do), if you need new roads or a bridge or whatever it might be, that there’s a clear pathway to applying for those funds, putting forward a case, and a legitimate system that shows where you are in the queue to achieving the infrastructure that you need in your community.”

In her maxim for integrity in politics, Haines says politicians need to “be what you want to see.”

On Scott Morrison’s bizarre power grab

On Scott Morrison’s bizarre power grab

August 16, 2022

As well as her interviews with politicians and experts, Politics with Michelle Grattan includes “Word from The Hill”, where she discusses the news with members of The Conversation politics team.

In this podcast, politics editor Amanda Dunn and Michelle discuss this week’s revelations that former prime minster Scott Morrison had himself secretly sworn into five different portfolios. They talk about the criticisms some are making of Governor-General David Hurley for his role, and the political fallout which has seen one Liberal frontbencher, Karen Andrews, saying Morrison should leave parliament.

How far will China go? La Trobe’s Nick Bisley says China’s ’risk appetite’ has gone up

How far will China go? La Trobe’s Nick Bisley says China’s ’risk appetite’ has gone up

August 11, 2022

The Chinese reaction to United States Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Taiwan visit further  escalated tensions in our region, as China becomes more bellicose in language and action. 

On Wednesday, China's Ambassador Xiao Qian spoke at the National Press Club. He talked about wanting a positive relationship between Australia and China, while reiterating China's uncompromising line towards Taiwan, and giving a chilling prediction of what the Taiwanese would be in for post reunification.   

"The least thing we are ready to do is use force. That is one of the reasons why China has been so patient for several decades. [...] We're waiting for a peaceful unification. But [...] we can never rule out the option to use other means [...] when compelled, we are ready to use all necessary means."

“My personal understanding is that once Taiwan is united, come back to the motherland, there might be process for the people in Taiwan to have a correct understanding of China.”

In this podcast, Michelle Grattan speaks with Nick Bisley, Professor of International Relations at La Trobe University, an expert in Asian foreign relations and Australia's foreign and defence policy. 

Bisley says "what we are probably entering into, at least for the next few months, is a period of much sharply-heightened instability and military kind of friction in and around Taiwan".

"China has made very clear for decades now that under certain circumstances it would use military force to deal with what it sees as a rogue province. And those circumstances are largely around a unilateral declaration of independence by Taiwan or some other really significant move away from the old status quo."

"I think what what we see out of this crisis is that China's risk appetite has gone up and its willingness to put up with what it sees as kind of provocations has gone down.

"So the likelihood of them using military force to coerce Taiwan – it's not going to happen this year or next year, but its likelihood of occurring in the next four to five years has distinctly increased."

On whether there is the likelihood of a conflict between China and the US as tensions between the two nations continue to rise, "the constraints that domestic politics puts on each side means that we could end up in a situation where they are backed into a corner and find that there's few ways out other than some kind of military action, which then escalates."

But "if there is a proper conflict between the US and China, everyone loses pretty significantly."

"When we look back in February 2022, thinking about what Putin would do in relation to Ukraine, we all thought he's not going to do a full-blown invasion. It doesn't make any sense. It's not in his interest to do so. I think we've always thought that about Taiwan. It's just not in the US's interest to do the full-blown military operation. And the lesson has got to be from Ukraine, is that sometimes rationality doesn't always win."

On whether the Albanese government is handling the rising tensions with China well, Bisley says: "They're playing a reasonable hand in what is a pretty difficult set of circumstances."

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