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Australian politics live: Optus needs to ‘front up’ with explanation for data breach, shadow cybersecurity minister says | Australian politics


Key events

Now that it is business as usual, the government is back to laying the groundwork for what sounds like a fairly austere budget next month.

Jim Chalmers says he has found “a further $6.1bn in unfunded spending”.

He says money promised by the past government was not delivered, rolling into the next funding years, which improved the budget for what was the Coalition’s last year, but kicked the problem down the road.

It’s things like PPE funding and things like that.

So why are we hearing about it now?

It’s all part of Chalmers’ working to get everyone in the headspace for what will be a fairly austere budget. If everyone is thinking about the debt, they won’t expect too much spending.

Anthony Albanese is doing a Brisbane radio tour this morning. First 4BC (Brisbane’s 2GB) where they played the Holy Grail for about four minutes and now Triple M Brisbane.

Josh Butler

Optus owes customers ‘full explanation and a genuine apology’, says Liberal senator

Coalition shadow minister for cybersecurity, James Paterson, says Optus needs to “front up” and give customers a more detailed explanation of the massive cyberattack that has potentially compromised more than nine million people’s data.

Paterson, the senator for Victoria, says the telecom giant owes their customers a “full explanation and a genuine apology”, with many stories already emerging of people struggling to safeguard their personal details or change passwords after last week’s cyber issue.

It’s appropriate that when there’s an investigation going on, that they follow the AFP’s advice, but that should not be used as an excuse not to be completely upfront with the public about how this happened and who’s responsible for it, when those facts are known,” he said.

Paterson was holding a Parliament House press conference with shadow home affairs minister Karen Andrews to discuss the private member’s bill (which Amy has detailed for you earlier) about raising penalties on hackers.

Liberal senator James Paterson.
Liberal senator James Paterson. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Andrews, who was the home affairs minister until the May election, claimed Labor had been “asleep at the wheel” on cybersecurity. She said the bill she was introducing was “exactly the same” as a bill she had introduced as the minister in February, but wasn’t advanced in parliament before the election.

Paterson was critical that current home affairs and cybersecurity minister Clare O’Neil hadn’t made more substantial comments since the Optus breach last week. He claimed she waited until the three-quarter-time break in Saturday’s AFL grand final to “send out three tweets”.

Australian companies must do all they can to protect their customers’ data. I will have much more to say in coming days about the Optus cyber attack and what steps need to be taken in the future.

— Clare O’Neil MP (@ClareONeilMP) September 24, 2022

In one of those tweets, O’Neil said she “will have much more to say in coming days”. Yesterday my colleagues Royce Kurmelovs and Donna Lu reported she was expected to announce reforms that would enable Optus to inform financial institutions about the data compromised in its recent cyber-attack.

Paterson said the Coalition had requested a briefing from the government on the Optus issue. Andrews said the opposition would “proactively look at any legislation” the government may propose, but Paterson claimed the government proposal would be “trying to close the gate after the horse has bolted”.

Updated at 23.43 BST

Nationals launch ‘regional listening tour’

The Nationals want to get back to their roots – the regions.

The country party are launching a “regional listening tour” to find out what is affecting people in the country.

Which they represent. And in many cases, also live.

Here is David Littleproud:

Migration is not the only solution to the challenges our regions are up against,” Littleproud said.

We need to look at what can be done now to help those Australians that are already in town.

We want to understand their challenges, what are the incentives they need to either get back to work or to stay in town.”

Littleproud said he expects “to hear about a variety of issues such as access to childcare, superannuation caps and the need for greater access to health services”.


We know distance is one of the greatest barriers to opportunity. So we’re coming to your town to create this opportunity to share your concerns and help us come up with the solutions.

For example, would a Regional University Centre stop our children from leaving town? Or could paying their HELP debts be the incentive they need to stay where we need them?

The Nationals are the only Party that represents regional Australia.

We do not have to compromise because we have Members in the cities, this is the purity of our purpose.”

Nationals leader David Littleproud.
Nationals leader David Littleproud. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP/PA Images

Updated at 23.44 BST

The rebrand of Peter Dutton, opposition leader, continues.

The Liberal leader is doing his best to not only smile more (a throwback to when he last tried to become prime minister) but also to be “funny”.

But political animals are going to political animal. This time though, the game has new players.

Updated at 23.30 BST

Four Corners turns spotlight on Peter Dutton

The opposition leader Peter Dutton is the topic of tonight’s Four Corners.

The Australian has tried to get ahead of the ABC with a story on “the mates the real Peter keeps close”.

Here is some of the motley crew – including former Liberals who lost blue-ribbon Liberal seats.

Updated at 23.19 BST

Rod Sims named chair of Opera Australia

There will be some changes at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

As AAP reports:

After more than a decade of fighting for consumers, Rod Sims is to focus his considerable experience on encouraging more Australians to give opera a go.

The former Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chair is taking on the role of chair of Opera Australia.

Sims wants to change perceptions opera is elitist, stage more full performances in Melbourne and nurture Australian talent over the term of his appointment.

He wasn’t born into an opera-loving family but became hooked the moment he heard a recording of the famous duet from The Pearl Fishers more than 40 years ago.

I was just blown away.

Trying to have more people have that experience would be a fantastic thing to do and does take a lot of creative thinking.

Sims will work closely with Opera Australia chief executive Fiona Allen to “move the dial” by collaborating with other arts organisations and developing ways to draw in new audiences.

Sims is taking on the role amid criticism Opera Australia, founded in 1956, is too Sydney-centric. No full operas will be staged in Melbourne in 2023, while seven full performances will take place in Sydney over a period of five months.

Obviously our Melbourne season next year is thin. It’s extremely high quality, by the way, but thin.

We’ve got to do more in Melbourne but I’m also interested to see whether we can do more in other places as well.

After 11 years at the helm of the ACCC, Rod Sims is the new chair of Opera Australia chair.
After 11 years at the helm of the ACCC, Rod Sims is the new chair of Opera Australia chair. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP/PA Images

Updated at 23.11 BST

Acoss want welfare payments lifted to at least $73 a day

The Australian Council of Social Service has a new report it will be launching showing just how impossible it is to live on the jobseeker and youth allowance rates (in case you needed a reminder).

The JobSeeker Payment is just $48 a day and Youth Allowance is just $38 a day. To put these rates of payment in perspective, it costs approximately $80 to fill a small car with unleaded fuel. Median rents for a unit are around $460 per week, or $65 a day.

Among the report key findings:

  • 62% have had difficulty getting medication or medical care due to the increased cost of living. Almost all (96%) said that the inability to cover the cost of living harmed their physical and mental health.

  • 62% are eating less or skipping meals while 71% are cutting back on meat, fresh fruit, and vegetables.

  • 96% of people renting privately are in rental stress, paying more than 30% of their income on rent, while 48% have received a rent increase in the past 6 months, with a third reporting a rise of $30 or more a week.

  • 70% of people who regularly use a car said they had difficulty travelling to work, medical appointments, or other commitments as a result of increased fuel costs.

  • More than half (57%) of respondents are shortening or taking fewer showers because of increased energy costs. 7 in 10 are cutting their use of heating. 28% currently have energy bill debt and a further 22% expect to go into debt when they receive their next bill. 46% of respondents are going to bed early to keep warm.

Acoss acting CEO Edwina MacDonald said people were being made to make “impossible choices”:

No one should have to choose between food and medicine, but these are exactly the choices being forced on people in Australia, one of the world’s wealthiest nations.”

Acoss wants the rate lifted to at least $73 a day. To raise it above the Henderson poverty line, the rate would need to be at least $88 a day.

The government has said it won’t be making changes to the rates in this budget.

Australian Council of Social Service acting CEO Edwina MacDonald.
Australian Council of Social Service acting CEO Edwina MacDonald. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Updated at 23.16 BST

Whale trapped in shark nets off Gold Coast

Dipping out of politics for a moment to bring you some marine news:

Updated at 23.17 BST

Coalition to reintroduce bill targeting cybercriminals

Karen Andrews and James Paterson are reintroducing a Coalition bill which the former government didn’t get around to passing as a private members’ bill.

The Optus data breach is the inspiration. The bill (which was first called the crimes legislation amendment (ransomware action plan) bill 2022) introduces a standalone offence for “all forms of cyber extortion” (up to 10 years in prison) and a new offence for cybercriminals who target critical infrastructure – like phone networks (up to 25 years in prison).

The bill also wants to make “buying and selling malware for the purpose of committing a computer offence and dealing with stolen data, to halt the effectiveness of the ransomware business model”.

That will be introduced today. Without the government’s support, that won’t pass.

Updated at 22.58 BST

Albanese to miss first two days of parliament to attend Shinzo Abe’s funeral

The prime minister Anthony Albanese is on his way to Japan for Shinzo Abe’s funeral.

He is leading a delegation which includes former prime ministers Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull.

Albanese will miss the first two days of parliament because of the funeral. He should be back in time for the Wednesday sitting.

Mourners gather at the altar for the late former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.
Mourners gather at the altar for the late former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe in Tokyo. Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters

Updated at 22.50 BST

Sarah Martin

Sarah Martin

Crossbench MPs say they will not be rushed into supporting proposed anti-corruption body

Crossbench MPs and senators say they will not be rushed into supporting the government’s proposed new anti-corruption body, saying they will continue to push for a model that “is the best it can be”, and which will improve integrity within government.

Outlining six key areas that it says will form the necessary “supporting infrastructure” for a successful anti-corruption body, the statement from 13 independents and the Greens says the group will continue to work constructively with the government to deliver an anti-corruption commission “with teeth”.

“We have been raising our detailed concerns with the Government for many months now in a good faith attempt to have them addressed in a timely way,” the statement says.

“We won’t delay the process for political games or point scoring, but won’t be rushed to vote in favour of a Bill that doesn’t make the grade.”

The six areas being pushed by the group are strong whistleblower protections, including through a whistleblower protection commissioner; statutory oversight mechanisms that protect the independence of the commission; budgetary protection, independence and funding transparency; ability for own-motion investigations into so-called “grey corruption”; funding for pro-integrity measures including prevention and education; and jurisdiction over third parties who seek to improperly influence government decisions and funding.

“They are not minor issues, but based on the lessons from integrity bodies in other states and territories, and from experts who have worked on these issues for many years,” the group said.

“It is now up to the Government to deliver an anti-corruption commission that is independent, strong, and trusted by the Australian people.”

The government’s proposed national anti corruption commission bill is expected to go to caucus on Tuesday before being introduced to parliament by attorney general Mark Dreyfus shortly thereafter. The government has said it remains committed to an election promise to introduce the legislation for the new commission this year, and has said any delays would be the result of resistance from the crossbench or the opposition.

Attorney general Mark Dreyfus.
Attorney general Mark Dreyfus. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP

On Sunday, the Coalition’s shadow finance minister Jane Hume said the opposition would consider supporting the bill, but had concerns about allowing public hearings that could deter people from entering public life.

Updated at 22.49 BST

Good morning

Welcome to another week of parliament!

It is a short week – just three days at this stage, with the government scheduling it to catch up for the week which was missed following the Queen’s death.

This week it is all about the integrity commission – and getting ahead of the budget.

Mark Dreyfus will take the government’s integrity legislation through caucus and then once it has passed there, take it to the parliament. Once introduced, it will head straight to a committee, which independent MP Helen Haines is likely to be on. From there, the bill will be reviewed and potential gaps highlighted. Once the committee reports is when things will start getting interesting – but that won’t be for a little bit yet.

The Coalition hasn’t decided what it is doing on integrity just yet. Labor had said it wants a retrospective inclusion to the legislation, which is not something the Coalition wants, so we’ll see. But there will be a whole heap of “will they or won’t they” until the decision is announced.

Karen Andrews says the opposition wants to look over the bill very closely:

I accept that the Australian people are looking for greater integrity and the issues of corruption, should they exist, be dealt with. That’s not an issue with me. That’s not an issue with my party, either. We will work proactively to look at the legislation that Labor puts in place. We will continue to work with Labor for a good outcome. That’s not a case of just waving through any legislation. As with anything, you would expect that there would be a high level of scrutiny. We’re committed to doing that.

Meanwhile, the Optus data breach is still a huge issue. Andrews plans to introduce a private members bill for a ransomeware action plan, proposing new offences for cybercriminals, while attacks on critical infrastructure such as phone and electricity networks would attract a maximum penalty of 25 years in jail.

The government is also due to respond to the interim report of the royal commission into defence and veteran suicide. It had recommended 13 urgent changes to address the major issues already highlighted, including the 42,000 or so backlog in veterans’ compensation claims.

And the cashless debit card will once again be a focus. The government is not getting rid of income management– the Northern Territory is not part of this and the Basics card remains. The cashless welfare card will be voluntary under the government legislation in the trial sites – Ceduna, East Kimberley, the Goldfields and Bundaberg-Hervey Bay.

And it is also the week for media diversity. Zoe Daniel and Monique Ryan want to set up a judicial inquiry looking at the concentration of media ownership in Australia. Ryan also wants to speed up approvals for NDIS housing.

So it’s all happening.

We’ll keep you all up to date with what is happening as it does. It’s going to take a lot of coffee. Perhaps more than I have.


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