Parliament is sitting for the final time before the budget. Will there be last-minute drama? Follow all the latest news live.
MODELLING WARNS OF HUGE POWER PRICE RISE
Energy Minister Angus Taylor has seized on new modelling analysing the effects of Labor’s 45 per cent Emissions Reduction Target and 50 per cent Renewable Energy Target.
“Labor’s reckless Emissions Reduction Target will be a wrecking ball through the Australian economy,” Mr Taylor said.
The modelling, which is currently being peer reviewed, was conducted by Dr Brian Fisher, who served under the Hawke, Keating and Howard governments as a climate policy adviser and has helped write three IPCC reports.
It shows Labor’s policy would cost the economy $472 billion dollars over a decade, cut the average wage by over $9000 and increase wholesale electricity prices by more than 58 per cent.
“Under Labor, Australians will pay more. We will pay more for basic necessities like food, housing, energy and transport,” Mr Taylor said.
‘SERIOUS CLOUD’ OVER JOE HOCKEY
Labor is pushing the government to launch a “full investigation” into the Helloworld saga before parliament rises this evening.
Shadow Finance Minister Jim Chalmers has told Sky News that former treasurer Joe Hockey, who is now Australia’s US ambassador, has “serious questions to answer”.
“Scott Morrison should not leave parliament today without launching a full investigation into Joe Hockey and Mathias Cormann,” Mr Chalmers said.
“This whole thing really stinks. It’s a serious scandal. There are lots of unanswered questions.
“If Joe Hockey is unable to explain his role in all of this then that’s a very serious cloud over him.
“I think potentially there are other ministers involved with other undeclared kickbacks.”
Christian Porter addressed this issue while he was doing the media rounds earlier, calling it “trumped up and overblown”.
Helloworld is run by Liberal Party treasurer Andrew Burnes. Mr Hockey, who is one of the company’s top 20 shareholders, reportedly requested that embassy staff meet with an executive from the travel company to help it understand the travel requirements of foreign affairs staff before it lobbied for government work.
Yesterday the travel company released a statement to the ASX saying Mr Hockey had no involvement in the tender process, and DFAT personnel provided the same meeting to a number of other companies as well.
GOVERNMENT FINDS MEDEVAC ‘LOOPHOLE’
Attorney-General Christian Porter has dropped a bit of a bombshell this morning, claiming to have found a loophole in the medevac legislation that passed parliament against the government’s wishes last week.
Mr Porter received legal advice from the Australian Government Solicitors on Wednesday which identified the alleged loophole.
“We said these were terrible laws and they would have unintended consequences,” Mr Porter told Channel 9.
“We’ve uncovered a loophole. And the loophole is unfortunate and very significant.
“In effect, a normal medical transfer, that the government has been conducting quietly and efficiently for many months, connects back into the Act in a way that there is a power for the government to remove someone back to where they came from. In this case, Manus or Nauru.
“The new Labor laws that were forced through the parliament don’t connect back to the rest of the Act in the same way. So our best advice, very sadly at the moment, is that once someone arrives at the request of two doctors, we will not be able to send them back.”
“So is this law then unworkable?” host Deborah Knight asked.
“Well it will work very, very poorly, as we suggested it would,” Mr Porter said.
He claimed the law would lead to asylum seekers being stuck “in limbo” on Christmas Island, having been transferred there for medical treatment without any government power to send them back.
“We are scrambling now, frankly, to try to find any other power that might exist, or ability on the part of the government, to be able to remove people back to Manus or Nauru once their treatment has finished.
“We are doing our best to make a terrible law work as best we can.”
Mr Porter said he would release a summary of the legal advice, but not the advice itself.
Labor has responded by calling Mr Porter’s claim a “distraction”.
“This is a desperate distraction from a government trying anything to hide from its scandals, and from bowing down to the big banks,” Shadow Immigration Minister Shayne Neumann said.
“If a person is transferred to Australia for temporary medical treatment, we will return them to Manus or Nauru once doctors advise they have completed medical treatment.”
— The Today Show (@TheTodayShow) February 20, 2019