National cabinet meets in Brisbane
The national cabinet will meet in Brisbane today to discuss health, the national disability insurance scheme, migration, and the voice referendum
While the states are expected to once again lobby for 50-50 hospital funding, the federal government has announced ahead of the meeting that it will improve access to after-hours care as part of its response to the strengthening Medicare taskforce report.
The current funding for after-hours programs through primary health networks terminates at the end of this financial year.
The Albanese government will provide funding to support primary health networks working with local primary care providers to provide after-hours care, including by addressing service gaps in regional areas and making improvements to Healthdirect.
Funding will also support new PHN programs with local community organisations that will increase access to primary care services for culturally and linguistically diverse Australians and people experiencing homelessness in the community.
The health minister, Mark Butler, said:
After nine years of cuts and neglect, Medicare is in its worst shape in 40 years. The former government froze the Medicare rebate for six years, ripping billions of dollars out of primary care and causing gap fees to skyrocket.
We said at the election that there was no higher priority for Labor in the health portfolio than strengthening Medicare and rebuilding general practice.”
The Albanese government is making it easier for Australians to see a doctor when they need it. Being able to access a doctor after hours is critical for patients to get they need, when they need it, taking the pressure off hospitals. The Albanese government is committed to investing in general practice and strengthening Medicare.
Government commits $10m for evaluation unit across agencies
Giving Western Australian teenagers infant simulators (‘robo-babies’) was supposed to prevent pregnancies, but on evaluation, the program was found to have backfired, actually increasing teen pregnancy rates.
Examples like this one is why the government is investing more in making sure its policies and programs are actually doing what they are supposed to be doing.
The federal government is committing $10m in the upcoming budget for a new centralised evaluation unit which will look to improve the delivery of programs across all agencies.
The government says it wants to deliver better value on taxpayer money by ensuring its policies and programs are as fit-for-purpose, cost-effective, and aligned with whole-of-government priorities as they can be.
Effective evaluation won’t just be about cost saving but can also provide evidence to support costly programs that deliver long-term benefits, according to the government.
The government says it’s a move away from over-reliance on consultants and delivering the government’s commitment to cutting spending on contractors.
The new evaluation unit will be established in Treasury and partner with departments and agencies across government to conduct evaluations on mutually agreed priorities.
The assistant treasurer, Andrew Leigh, said:
Rigorous impact measurement is fundamental to good government. Yet in 2019, a report found that under the Morrison Government, evaluation of government programs was ‘piecemeal’.
The Albanese Government is committed to measuring what works.
This unit will conduct high-quality impact evaluations of government programs, including randomised policy trials. This will allow government to evaluate the impact of policies with the same rigour we use to test new medical treatments.
Quality evaluation will save taxpayers money, and help government design and adapt programs to better serve the community. It’s good for the budget bottom line, and good for all Australians.
More from AAP on the climate protester who has scaled the spire of the Arts Centre Melbourne in an early morning demonstration:
Just after dawn on Friday, the climber unfurled a giant banner promoting climate activist group Extinction Rebellion, as supporters watched on.
The banner promotes three days of climate rallies set to be held in late May.
The Extinction Rebellion group is known for disruptive, high-profile protests staged around the world.
The group says the May demonstrations will include daily acts of civil disobedience.
Supporters set up tents outside the performing arts centre at Southbank in inner Melbourne to watch the climb on Friday.
The man appeared to attempt to light a flame.
Spokeswoman Jane Morton told Nine’s Today program the purpose of the demonstration was to draw attention to the climate crisis.
We are looking at societal collapse, that is what scientists are saying. It’s not really on the news. That is why Extinction Rebellion is going to try to sound the alarm.
Victoria police say they are aware of the situation and are responding to the protest.
Arts Centre Melbourne representatives have made no comment while a live police operation is underway.
The communications minister, Michelle Rowland, is speaking in Sydney announcing the new rules to ban betting online with a credit card.
Rowland says harm minimisation is the key principle.
The message is simple, people should not be betting with money they don’t have. We know that some 15-20% of online wagering is currently done with credit cards.
The social services minister, Amanda Rishworth, follows Rowland and says the problem with credit cards is that people are “using debt to facilitate online gambling.”
You can read the full details about those new laws here:
NSW records 35 Covid deaths and 1,285 people in hospital
There were 11,745 new cases in the weekly reporting period, and 36 people are in intensive care.
The number of cases have come down from last week’s 12,393 – but deaths which are always a lagging indicator are up on 29 reported in the last period.
Lehrmann to learn today whether time limit for defamation is extended
At midday today, Bruce Lehrmann will learn whether he is able to proceed with his defamation case against Network Ten and News Corp subsidiary, News Life Media Pty Ltd, over their reporting of Brittany Higgins’ allegations of rape.
Lehrmann is suing the two outlets outside of the usual 12-month window. Their initial reporting of the Higgins story took place in February 2021 and Lehrmann did not commence proceedings until this year.
That means he needs to convince a court to extend the usual time limit on defamation claims by proving it was not unreasonable for him to delay bringing the case.
He has argued he was delayed due to earlier legal advice, received just after the initial reporting, which advised him to delay defamation proceedings. Lehrmann also says he delayed bringing the civil claim because of the prospect of criminal proceedings that then hung over him.
The media outlets say there was an obvious window for Lehrmann to commence proceedings against the media outlets within the first 12 months of publication. They say the evidence shows he was clearly contemplating defamation proceedings in February 2021, and pointed to text messages suggesting Lehrmann was receiving legal advice immediately after the publications he was “up for millions as defamation”.
Lehrmann denies raping Higgins in Parliament House. He pleaded not guilty at a criminal trial, which was aborted due to juror misconduct. A second trial did not proceed due to concerns about the risk to Higgins’ mental health.
Hunt for driver after woman injured in road rage attack
The hunt is on for a driver accused of repeatedly punching a woman in the face and breaking her nose in a vicious road rage attack, AAP reports.
Victoria police believe the woman sounded her car’s horn after the male driver’s black VW Golf hatch overtook her vehicle on a suburban street in Melbourne’s east at 6.30pm on Wednesday.
The man abruptly hit the brakes several times and approached the woman when she pulled over on a quiet street in Balwyn North.
He then verbally abused her as she sat inside her white Honda Civic.
The woman waited for him to return to his car before getting out, however he allegedly approached her and punched her in the head.
She fell to the ground and the man punched her head several more times as she tried to crawl away, police said.
The man then got back into his car and drove off.
The woman’s mother and witnesses called for help and she was taken to hospital with facial injuries, including a broken nose.
The man wanted over the attack is described as southern European in appearance, aged in his 20s and about 175cm tall.
Philanthropists pledge $17m in united effort to support voice
An alliance of philanthropic foundations have declared their support for voice and pledged $17m to the yes campaigns.
The 31 Australian foundations and funders have unveiled a philanthropic pledge, all calling for the need for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to have a say in the matters that affect them through an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.
Signatories include the Australian Communities Foundation, the Besen Family Foundation, Cages Foundation, Mecca M-Power, the Nelson Meers Foundation, and the Myer Foundation.
Paul Ramsay Foundation CEO Prof Kristy Muir said:
Philanthropic organisations are deeply engaged in working with First Nations-led organisations and programs around the country.
As a sector, we’ve learned from experience that the best outcomes emerge when the voices of those affected are heard. Voice is a vital mechanism that’s been missing for a long time.
Philanthropy Australia CEO Jack Heath welcomed the pledge:
Philanthropy Australia’s support for the Yes case is based on listening to what First Nations peoples say is needed to improve their daily lives and it is backed by the overwhelming majority of our membership.
The philanthropic pledge is available to view on the Philanthropy Australia website here.
Weather warnings likely
Those on the east coast might want to give any outdoor plans a rethink. The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting a wet weekend.
Ley harks back to Liberal party’s 2013 glory days
In her message, Ley has said the 2013 election victory was built on “no sniping from inside the tent” the Australian reports:
There were no factional chiefs threatening to bring the party down. Well ahead of time, we had candidates in place to contest seats – really good ones – some of whom still serve in parliament and are widely acknowledged as the best in the marginal seat business.
We weren’t bogged down in culture wars. We weren’t beating our chests trying to out-right wing or out-left wing each other.
Every single Liberal, with every fibre of their being, was just trying to defeat Labor so that we could get into government and help aspirational Australians get ahead. Discipline won the day.
Asked about the issue of disunity in the Liberal party given her strong language in this message, Ley tells ABC News:
Look, it has been an issue and we shouldn’t shy away from that. And I also make the point that in 2013 we selected great candidates, we fought as a unity team, we got there for the Australian people for all the right reasons. So, of course, there’s no room and no reason for factional infighting. You see it across all political parties, by the way, it’s not confined to the Liberal party.
Ley also backed Peter Dutton as “absolutely” the right leader to win back inner-city seats for the Liberal party and avoided answering the question of whether she herself aspires to the leadership.
Sussan Ley on why ‘the time to sook and moan’ is over for the Liberals
Deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley is concluding a pre-budget tour of key electorates almost a year since the Coalition’s federal election defeat.
Explaining her message that “the time to sook and moan is over” to ABC News Breakfast, Ley says:
Sometimes people take a while to get over a defeat and a loss, and that includes our party members and the people I meet in the street. But what my message today is that Australians need us, they need us to be a strong opposition, actually everybody needs the opposition to be strong, even if you support the government, because that gets the best possible public policy outcomes.
Minister ‘not surprised’ at backbench backlash over jobseeker
Social service minister Amanda Rishworth says she is “not surprised” there is backlash from Labor backbenchers as the Albanese government looks set to ignore calls to raise jobseeker in the upcoming budget.
Do you agree $50 a day is simply not enough for JobSeeker recipients to live on?
I have always said it is difficult to live on income support. It is not easy.
Rishworth follows her fellow ministers insisting “there will be a package of how we support our most vulnerable” including “targeted” cost-of-living measures like energy relief.
On the growing number of Labor MPs calling on the government to raise kobseeker (at least 10 by this count), Rishworth says:
I am very committed to working with government members about how we best tackle cost of living and disadvantage.
I am not surprised that Labor members care about tackling disadvantage.
I am really very much going to be working with my colleagues.
Extinction Rebellion banner on Melbourne Arts Centre spire
An Extinction Rebellion protester has scaled the Melbourne Arts Centre spire to unveil a banner raising awareness for the upcoming “Occupy for Climate” next month.
The demonstrator is still up on the spire and protesters are gathering below, according to live shots on ABC News.