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Australia politics live: Jacqui Lambie says she made a mistake voting for stage three tax cuts | Optus

Jacqui Lambie says she made a mistake voting for stage three tax cuts

Jacqui Lambie voted for the stage three tax cuts. When Labor was considering voting against the package, the Coalition worked to court enough crossbenchers to get the bill across the line (meaning it would pass either way).

Labor ended up voting for the package. But Lambie says she made a mistake in supporting the package and has now made that clear in the senate.

Key events

AFP launches investigation into Optus data breach

For those who missed it yesterday, the Australian Federal Police have launched an investigation into the Optus data breach:

Operation Hurricane has been launched to identify the criminals behind the alleged breach and to help shield Australians from identity fraud.

The AFP is aware of reports of the sale of stolen data and investigations are continuing.

To protect the integrity of the criminal investigation, the AFP will not divulge what information it has obtained in the first few days of Operation Hurricane.

However, the public can be assured that since a report from Optus on 23 September, 2022, the AFP has diverted significant resources to the investigation.

The newly established AFP-led JPC3, which is a joint partnership between law enforcement, the private sector and industry to combat the growing threat of cybercrime, is providing further capability in the investigation.

The AFP is also working closely with Optus, the Australian Signals Directorate and overseas law enforcement.

The assistant commissioner of cyber command, Justine Gough, said while the investigation was going to be extremely complex and very lengthy it was important to note that the AFP specialised in investigations of this type.

“This is an ongoing investigation but it is important the community knows the AFP and our partners are doing everything within scope to identify the offenders responsible, and to also ensure we can protect individuals who are now potentially vulnerable to identity theft,” Gough said.

Good advice in general re clicking links from hackers:

WARNING – do not click on latest link from alleged Optus hacker. IT security experts confirm it “tries to use drive-by and explicit download techniques to install executable files – this appears to be an attempt to capitalise on the publicity from the hack to setup a future hack”

— Andrew Greene (@AndrewBGreene) September 26, 2022

Adeshola Ore

Adeshola Ore

Victorian Labor pledges to legislate major renewable energy storage targets

The Andrews government has committed to reaching Australia’s biggest renewable energy storage targets in a bid to accelerate the transition away from coal.

The pledge was announced on Tuesday morning alongside a $157m package to support renewable energy generation and storage projects.

Andrews said the state would legislate the storage targets that were predicted to create 12,700 jobs and $1.7bn in investment from 2032 to 2035:

Victoria will see by 2030 some 2.3GW of storage by 2030 and 6.3GW of storage by 2035 . That’s about enough power for half of Victorian households when it gets to that full 6.3GW.

In March, Andrews announced Australia’s first offshore wind targets. Under the plan, offshore wind farms could generate enough to power 1.5m Victorian homes by 2032.

The party room meetings are starting to come to a close – we will bring you those updates very soon

Peter Hannam

Peter Hannam

Australian consumer confidence rises to highest level since May

Australian consumers, it seems, are an optimistic bunch. Perhaps the football finals and the unusual suspended animation after Queen Elizabeth II’s death played a role, but so far shopping sentiment is holding up quite well despite the gathering gloom overseas.

The latest weekly survey by ANZ and Roy Morgan has consumer confidence rising again to the best reading since late May (although it’s a low level by historical measures).

Despite gloomy news on interest rates, etc,
consumer confidence has extended recent rises, so say @ANZ_Research & @RoyMorganAus. Their weekly gauge rose 2.1% last week to its highest since late May. Most sub-indices also posted a rise, eg for ‘time to buy a major household item’.

— Peter Hannam (@p_hannam) September 26, 2022

“The increase in headline confidence was mainly driven by improved sentiment around Australia’s economic conditions,” Catherine Birch, a senior ANZ economist, said. “Continued strength despite 225 basis points of rate hikes over the past five months may be quelling fears of a sharp downturn.”

Another outcome that will please the Reserve Bank is the drop in inflation expectations. Recall that the RBA rate hikes are as much about stamping out expected inflation as they are for actual price rises.

Businesses, for instance, won’t put up prices as much if they think future costs aren’t going to rise – or that they may be caught out pushing through higher prices that aren’t justified or matched by competitors. Unions, too, won’t be as worried about further erosion of real wages.

Motorists, though, might have cause to be a bit dismayed by what’s going on at the service stations around the country. Weekly data from the Australian Institute of Petroleum shows the gap between retail and wholesale petrol prices has lately widened to more than at any time in the past couple of years.

It’s notable that the gap between average retail and wholesale fuel prices is the widest in years – just prior to the end of excise ‘holiday’ later this week. Coincidence? #auspol (Source: AIP)

— Peter Hannam (@p_hannam) September 26, 2022

The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, and the ACCC have warned they will be scrutinising how much fuel prices go up when the “excise holiday” ends late on Wednesday night, potentially adding as much as 24 cents a litre to the cost of filling up. Perhaps that scrutiny needs to be backdated a week or so.

Either way, it’s a fair bet that this time next week both consumer sentiment and inflation expectations will be heading in different directions than the current survey. Let’s see.

Graham Readfearn

Graham Readfearn

Positive news as some stranded pilot whales successfully re-released into ocean

For those wanting an update on the pilot whale stranding:

A mission to rescue scores of pilot whales found still alive on a beach after a mass stranding on Tasmania’s west coast has ended, with satellite trackers showing two rescued whales well south of the state.

State government personnel and volunteers from the local salmon farming industry lifted 44 live pilot whales off Ocean Beach, near Strahan, and towed them one-by-one to deeper waters.

Some 230 pilot whales – which are actually large oceanic dolphins – were reported on the beach last Wednesday.

Almost 200 dead whales which died before rescuers were able to assist were tied together and on Sunday pulled out into the deep ocean, where authorities said they were expected to drift south in the Southern Ocean. Only two carcasses remain on the beach.

Preliminary data from satellite tackers on two of the rescued live whales showed they were now well south of Tasmania. Incident controller Nic Deka said:

This is positive news as this indicates that many of the rescued whales have been successfully released back into the Southern Ocean.

Deka thanked colleagues from the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania, as well as salmon industry staff, volunteers and the Strahan community and local council for their help. Access roads have re-opened.

Authorities said carcasses could wash up in the coming weeks and surveillance flights would be monitoring nearby beaches. Any sightings in the region should be reported to a whale hotline on Whale Hotline at 0427 WHALES.

The stranding came two years to the day after the biggest recorded mass whale or dolphin stranding in Australia at the same location. Some 470 pilot whales were found in Macquarie Harbour and on Ocean Beach.

Things that make you go hmmmmm

Yep. We getting the “special price” of $1.90 before the “extra special” price of $2.20 when by rights it should be $1.60 for the past fortnight and next week.

— Paul Karp (@Paul_Karp) September 26, 2022

Over 42,000 claims for veteran’s assistance yet to be processed

There are still 42,000 claims for assistance which veterans are waiting to be processed. Matt Keogh said that the government is working on expediting those claims, but it will take time – into next year.

It’s a really difficult situation. It’s why we have taken on doing this triage processing and trying to prioritise those claims where people are most at risk or families are most at risk of those veterans so that those who do find themselves in the worst situations can get their claims processed more quickly than that.

And yes, it is an unacceptable situation that we’ve now found ourselves in, where there are 40,000-odd claims that are sitting in a backlog, in addition to the 20,000‑odd claims that we try to process every year through the department. And obviously we need to massively increase our rate of processing.

The fact that this situation has been allowed to eventuate because of a lack of resourcing being provided to the department is terrible. It’s part of what I’ve apologised for in the parliament yesterday.

The important thing is that we are now taking the action necessary, employing the additional staff, implementing systems to make processing more efficient so we can get through this as quickly as possible, and making sure that those veterans that are in the harder situations get their claims prioritised.

As part of his statement on the royal commission into defence and veteran suicide to the house yesterday, Matt Keogh, the minister for veteran’s affairs, apologised to veterans and their families for how they have been treated. It was part of the government’s response to the interim report handed down by the commission.

On ABC RN Breakfast this morning, he was asked why saying sorry was so important:

I think an apology is important because part of the issue that veterans and serving personnel and their families, especially the loved ones of those who have taken their own life, have been grappling with is being heard and feeling like they’re being heard and having an acknowledgment that the way in which these agencies have operated has in some cases in no way been appropriate. And it’s important to acknowledge that, to provide that recognition and to own up to the fact that the way these things have turned out, the way some of these agencies have operated at times has not been appropriate.

Labor: Optus data breach is partly of previous government’s making

Labor’s Peter Khalil has also been speaking on the Optus data breach. He told Sky News this morning:

The security breach, which we know the minister has pointed out, rests with Optus. We shouldn’t be expecting this kind of breach of this nature from a large telecommunications company and we’re obviously doing everything we can do to support Optus through the Australian Cyber Security Centre and the Australian Signals Directorate to provide that support. But also our law enforcement and other agencies are monitoring all of this and investigating it and making sure that, you know, especially if people try by some stolen credentials, that the full force of the law is brought to bear. So it is very, very concerning.

But I just got to say one important point. I’ve heard the opposition, a conga line of shadow ministers led by Peter Dutton, the opposition leader, including James Paterson, who’s here with me today, who’ve been clutching their pearls, so to say, being critical of the minister for home affairs, ‘where is she, where is the response’.

Let me tell you what the minister of home affairs has been doing. She’s been fixing up a problem that is partly of their making. The previous government, the Liberal government, decided to exempt telecommunication companies from the security of critical infrastructure laws. They made that decision. It enabled this attack.

Now Optus is responsible, but of course you know that we live in a very dangerous neighbourhood. We all agree on that and that decision. And of course, the minister for communications was a former Optus executive, Paul Fletcher.

So they left out the telcos because the telcos said, ‘oh, we’ve got this, we can handle it’.

But of course that has meant that they have left not only the door unlocked in this dangerous neighbourhood when there’s a rise of cyberattacks and cybercriminals and so on. They’ve left it wide open. They’ve left the backdoor open and they’ve left the windows open.

Peter Hannam

Peter Hannam

Council of Financial Regulators releases quarterly statement on markets

The Council of Financial Regulators (The RBA, the Treasury, Asic and Apra) have released their quarterly statement on how markets have been behaving and have added an unusual note given the Optus data breach since the council’s 21 September meeting.

The council members, along with the ACCC and ATO, “have been liaising closely”, as you’d hope.

“Council members are also working closely with financial institutions, reinforcing the importance of cybersecurity and the ‘know your customer’ requirements,” the statement says.

The main financial condition that has changed in the past couple of quarters, of course, is the RBA’s interest rate rises.

Pressure on household budgets has increased.

At the same time, household balance sheets continue to be supported by strong conditions in the labour market, and many households accumulated larger saving buffers during the pandemic.

Business insolvencies remain below equivalent pre-Covid levels, though some sectors are experiencing challenging trading conditions.

The council will continue to closely “monitor trends in borrowing” given the economic uncertainties, the high level of household debt, the decline in housing prices and rising interest rates.

So nothing to worry too much about – yet. But, the falling Australian dollar (down below 65 US cents overnight) adds to inflationary pressures by making our imports more expensive.

In turn, investors are lately raising their expectations of how high the RBA will lift its interest rate … with another two percentage points (200 basis points) in increases now their forecast for mid-2023.

Investors are strongly expecting a 50bp rise in the RBA’s cash rate on Oct 4th (at an 83% chance). They’re also betting on a full percentage point increase by year’s end, and a peak at 4.35% by mid next year. (Banks such as Westpac have a ‘terminal’ rate at 3.6%.)

— Peter Hannam (@p_hannam) September 26, 2022

Childcare subsidy bill to be introduced in parliament today

The education minister, Jason Clare, will introduce the early childhood education subsidy changes legislation into the parliament today.

It won’t kick in until July next year, though. He told Nine:

Childcare is expensive and it’s gone up by 41%, just in the last eight years. We promised to cut the cost of childcare; I will introduce laws to do just that today. It will cut the cost of childcare for more than a million Australian families.

We do that by increasing the subsidy so if you’re a family on [$60,000-$80,000] a year, we’ll increase the subsidy for you to 90% of those costs. It means effectively for a family on $80,000 a year, the government will provide about $14,000 a year, if you have a child going three days a week.

It’s a big investment, but we know that if childcare is more affordable, then it makes it easier for parents to go back to work, in particular mums. I think 60% of mums with kids under the age of 6 are … working part time rather than full time … it’s often because childcare is so expensive.

Aerosmith starts playing….

Natasha May

Natasha May

Optus CEO says security breach ‘not as being portrayed’ by minister for home affairs

The CEO of Optus, Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, says the company’s massive security breach was “not as being portrayed” after the minister for home affairs accused the company of leaving the “window open” for the data to be stolen.

The minister for home affairs, Clare O’Neal, described the hack as “basic” on ABC’s 7.30 program Monday evening, undermining Rosmarin’s description earliest last week as a “sophisticated attack.”

What happened at Optus wasn’t a sophisticated attack.

We should not have a telecommunications provider in this country that has effectively left the window open for data of this nature to be stolen.#abc730

— Clare O’Neil MP (@ClareONeilMP) September 26, 2022

Asked about the O’Neil’s comments on ABC Radio Tuesday morning, Rosmarin thanks reporter Peter Ryan for “letting me address that misinformation”.

Rosmarin said that O’Neil’s interview with the ABC occurred before Optus’ briefing with the minister.

Rosmarin said the breach is “not what it’s made out to be” because the data was encrypted and there were “multiple levels” of protection.

She said it was not the case having an “exposed API [address] sitting out there”.

Territory rights bill to be debated this week

The territory rights bill will be debated this week after some fancy senate footwork from independent senator, David Pocock.

The Canberra Times’ Dan Jervis-Bardy reported Pocock has agreed to put one of his motions on the back burner and support the government to sit late tonight to pass the cashless debit card legislation, in order to bring forward the territory rights legislation on the notice paper.

The bill wasn’t scheduled to be debated this week, but a few things have happened.

ACT independent David Pocock has agreed to delay his super disallowance motion, and will support the government’s wish to sit late on Tuesday to pass the cashless debit card bill.

— Dan Jervis-Bardy (@D_JervisBardy) September 26, 2022

Jacqui Lambie says she made a mistake voting for stage three tax cuts

Jacqui Lambie voted for the stage three tax cuts. When Labor was considering voting against the package, the Coalition worked to court enough crossbenchers to get the bill across the line (meaning it would pass either way).

Labor ended up voting for the package. But Lambie says she made a mistake in supporting the package and has now made that clear in the senate.

New Optus data breach ransom demand reported

Natasha May

Natasha May

In the latest news in the Optus data breach, a reported ransom demand is claiming 10,000 users will have their data leaked a day until Optus pays.

Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, the CEO of Optus, told ABC Radio the Australian Federal Police were already investigating the reported ransom demand.

Rosmarin said Optus couldn’t say much as it’s being investigated but confirmed “we have seen that there is a post like that on the dark web and the Australian Federal Police is all over that”.

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