As it happened: Voice to parliament divides opposition further as Julian Leeser resigns from Liberal frontbench; IMF downbeat on global outlook – Sydney Morning Herald

As it happened: Voice to parliament divides opposition further as Julian Leeser resigns from Liberal frontbench; IMF downbeat on global outlook - Sydney Morning Herald

Key posts

Today’s headlines

By Anna Patty

Thanks for joining us today. Here’s a recap of some of our main headlines:

  • The International Monetary Fund has warned the world economy faces “feeble and uneven growth” that will drag on for the rest of the decade.
  • Treasurer Jim Chalmers conceded Australia would not be immune from a global economic slowdown, but said taxpayers could expect the federal budget to deliver further energy relief for households.
  • Senior Liberal frontbencher Simon Birmingham says he does not plan to campaign against the Voice to parliament and answering a question, said he hasn’t considered standing aside from shadow cabinet “at this stage”.
  • The Australian Electoral Commission launched an education campaign today in preparation for the Voice referendum.
  • Evacuations are underway in Western Australia’s north-west today as tourists, miners and pastoralists flee the predicted path of a strengthening cyclone.
  • Airstrikes on Myanmar are feared to have killed as many as 100 people including children who were attending a ceremony held by opponents of army rule.
  • Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will not attend this year’s NATO summit.

Sukkar shrugs off Turnbull criticism that he was to blame for Aston result

By Anna Patty

Liberal MP Michael Sukkar has dismissed former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s assessment that he was to blame for the Aston byelection defeat because he had helped push the party too far to the right.

Speaking on ABC Radio Melbourne, he said Turnbull was “not in a great position to be offering advice on these sorts of matters” after having led the party to lose 14 seats. He said byelections were often unusual and did not follow conventional political trends.

Sukkar also said he will vote against the Voice referendum while acknowledging there were mixed views on the issue in his electorate of Deakin.

Former federal housing minister Michael Sukkar.

Former federal housing minister Michael Sukkar.Credit: Getty

“As a member of shadow cabinet, and I might say as a strongly held view, I’ll be voting against Anthony Albanese’s proposal for the Voice. I think it will be a very damaging change to our Constitution.”

“I think it would be appalling for Australians to divide ourselves based on race.”

Now for the latest health drama to disrupt our lives – poisoning by Death Cap

By Anna Patty

Wet and cooler weather has prompted health warnings in Victoria about the dangers of eating wild mushrooms.

Death Cap mushrooms and Yellow-staining mushrooms which commonly grow in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria can cause gastrointestinal illness, liver failure, and death.

Death Cap mushrooms – the most dangerous species – are typically found near oak trees in city and rural areas. The exotic species was accidentally introduced from Europe where it is commonly found under deciduous trees or conifers.

A death cap mushroom.

A death cap mushroom.Credit: Nicole Precel

These mushrooms are large, with a pale yellow-green to olive-brown cap, white gills, a skirt around the stem and a cup-shaped sac around the base.

Symptoms of poisoning Death Cap can include stomach pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea within hours of consumption. Even if symptoms subside, serious organ failure can occur 24-48 hours after ingestion that may result in death.

Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Clare Looker urged Victorians not to pick and eat wild mushrooms. “Doing so can have serious consequences for your health,” she said.

“It is very difficult to distinguish between poisonous and edible wild mushrooms, so people are advised to only consume commercially bought mushrooms.”

Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria research scientist Dr Camille Truong said rain over the Easter break had provided ideal conditions for poisonous mushroom species to sprout.

The Yellow staining mushroom looks very similar to ‘supermarket’ or cultivated mushrooms and to edible wild mushrooms, such as the field mushroom.

In urban areas, the Yellow staining mushroom can grow in large troops in lawns and gardens. The cap and stem are white-ish to pale brown, and turn yellow when rubbing the surface with a thumbnail.

Looker advised anyone who suspects they may have consumed a poisonous mushroom to seek urgent medical attention.

“Do not wait for symptoms to appear,” she said.

People should contact the Victorian Poisons Information Centre immediately on 13 11 26 for assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Birmingham rules out standing aside from shadow cabinet ‘at this stage’

By Paul Sakkal

Senior Liberal frontbencher Simon Birmingham says he does not plan to campaign against the Voice to parliament.

Coalition leader Peter Dutton last week announced the party would formally oppose the Voice, and he would personally campaign against it. There has been speculation about whether Liberal moderates bound by the party’s position would campaign alongside Dutton or take a more neutral stance.

Shadow foreign affairs minister Simon Birmingham.

Shadow foreign affairs minister Simon Birmingham.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Birmingham, who pushed for frontbenchers to be free to speak in favour of the referendum proposal, told Sky News he did not plan to fight against the Voice.“My intention is to respect the Australian people,” he said.

When asked if he would stand aside from shadow cabinet, he said: “Look, I haven’t considered doing so at this stage.

“Birmingham also declined to detail how he would personally vote, and said he retained hope the government would compromise on the wording of the constitutional alteration.”

‘We are serious about this thing’: Linda Burney on the Voice

By Lisa Visentin

While Dutton is in Alice Springs, Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney is in Perth with former Liberal Minister Ken Wyatt campaigning on the Voice.

Asked whether the government was willing to compromise on the constitutional amendment in light of concerns about its ability to advise the executive government, Burney said the wording “hasn’t come out of thin air” and said it would be examined during a six-week parliamentary inquiry, which begins on Friday.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney.Credit: Louie Douvis

“The reason why executive government was important particularly to the working group [of Indigenous leaders advising the government] is that many decisions that are made in government are made by senior bureaucrats, which is why the executive government was so important to be included,” Burney said.

Under clause 2 of the proposed amendment, the Voice will have the ability to “make representations” to both the parliament and the executive government of the Commonwealth.

Burney was pressed on the fact that some constitutional lawyers have labelled the inclusion of “executive government” as a legal risk on the grounds it could provide a basis for High Court challenges if the Voice is not consulted on government decisions.

“Many constitutional lawyers say that the words that we’ve ended up with are very sound. That is why the six-week process is so important in terms of getting everyone’s points of view. We are serious about this thing.”

Watch live: Linda Burney

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney is speaking to journalists in West Australia today where she is joined by former Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt.


Action on violence in Alice Springs can’t wait for the Voice. It’s ‘needed now’: Dutton

By Lisa Visentin

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton is with CLP Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price in Alice Springs where they are campaigning against the Voice to Parliament, as they seek to highlight the ongoing law and order problems in the town.

Dutton said the level of crime on the ground in Alice Springs was extraordinary and required quicker action than the Voice could provide.

“The urgency of what’s happening here now needs to be understood… it needs to be addressed now,” he said.

The opposition leader claimed children in the Northern Territory were being abused by family members and being sent back to those homes by authorities. He argued the same actions would be plastered on the front pages of city newspapers if the subjects were white children.

“How can those children continue to be abused?” he said. “The action needs to be now.”

Dutton criticised the Voice as a city-centric body, despite the fact the model has not been determined and its composition and membership will be decided by the Parliament after the referendum, if it is successful.

“I don’t believe that a Canberra voice of 24 people, who predominantly come from capital cities, is going to be the solution to the problems here on the ground,” Dutton said.

“If I did, I’d embrace it straightaway. But I believe very strongly that listening to local and regional voices, which is what the Liberal Party is doing, is an attempt to make sure that we unite our country.”

“The prime minister at the moment is putting forward a model which divides our country, and he won’t explain any of the detail.”

Dutton’s reference to a 24-member Voice comes from the widely cited report by Indigenous academics Marcia Langton and Tom Calma, which lays out a blueprint for how the Voice could operate.

It proposed a 24-member Voice, comprising two members from each state, territory and the Torres Strait and a further five members from remote areas of the NT, WA, Queensland, WA and SA, as well as a Torres Strait Islander living on the mainland.

However, the Albanese government has not committed to adopting this model if the referendum is successful.

Alice Springs has ‘never been further away from Canberra’

By Anna Patty

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton is in Alice Springs talking about the need to restore law and order, saying that its residents could not afford to wait for an outcome on the Voice referendum.

He said Alice Springs is the heart of Australia, but “that heart is broken”. The Alice Springs bakery was like no other in Australia because it needed concrete bollards and iron bars for protection against vandalism, theft and sexual assault.

“It’s completely unacceptable and Australians should be as angry as anyone is who lives in this town,” he said.

“There’s got to be changes immediately. We’ve got to save lives because people can’t wait any longer,” he said.

Watch live: Peter Dutton in Alice Springs


Better regulation needed for aviation tourism after multiple helicopter crashes

By Daile Cross

The parents of a young girl who died when a helicopter broke apart and crashed onto a Broome road two years ago say aviation tourism pilots and companies around the country must be better regulated to prevent further tragedies.

Amber Millar’s mother and step-father Fiona and Clint Benbow slammed the Australian Transport Safety Bureau for taking more than two years to deliver the results of its investigation into the incident, saying the delay may have impacted the ability of authorities to hold people to account for their daughter’s death.

Amber Millar with her mum Fiona Benbow and step-dad Clint.

Amber Millar with her mum Fiona Benbow and step-dad Clint.Credit: Fiona and Clint Benbow

The ATSB report, released today, found pilot Thomas had a “high-risk appetite” and may have embarked on the deadly flight influenced by a belief that vibrations noticed on two previous flights was a minor issue.

There was evidence that he had in the past taken and exposed others to elevated risk, and had carried passengers in an unsafe manner on multiple occasions.

The Benbows said there had been 30 helicopter crashes across the country since Amber died.

“While there are many individuals who self-regulate and companies operating within legal requirements, we need to keep our skies safe by identifying risk-takers and rule breakers that operate in ways that could place people’s lives at risk,” they said.

“Operating an aircraft and holding a ‘private pilot’ licence should be a great privilege, and we want to see significant penalties for companies, their executives and directors if they do not operate aircraft properly and provide suboptimal services or experiences.”

Read the full story here.

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