Welcome back to Politics Live.
It’s Tuesday, which means it is party room meeting day, so there is a little bit of legislation to get through.
First off – the bad news. The government is looking at increasing the unemployment payment by just $50 a fortnight when the Covid supplement ends on 31 March. Anyone who has had to live on the jobseeker payment (and let’s just get it straight, it is not a choice, poverty is never a choice) knows the sheer terror of trying to make a budget work. The pandemic made it a little easier – people had the space to buy new shoes, get urgent car repairs, buy fresh produce and work to get a job they were right for, instead of trudging to interview after interview to meet a mutual obligation requirement which wasn’t going to lead anywhere.
But as Luke Henriques-Gomes reports, looks like we are about to put people right back there.
The same Nationals that insist on holding on to the past for energy use are attempting to flex their muscle on other issues they don’t have any actual idea on, as Paul Karp reports:
George Christensen’s proposal to require doctors to provide assistance to foetuses with signs of life during an abortion has been labelled “nonsensical” by a leading abortion care expert.
Catriona Melville, the deputy medical director of Marie Stopes Australia, said the Nationals MP had proposed “policy for a circumstance that by the nature of the procedure wouldn’t occur”.
Christensen says he will introduce a private member’s bill to overturn clinical guidelines in Queensland that state “if [during an abortion] a live birth occurs … do not provide life-sustaining treatment” and similar rules in other states.
And Peter Dutton wants the power to cancel visas using ‘secret’ evidence.
All round just great areas.
Meanwhile, Brittany Higgins’s bravery means the government can’t escape answering questions over the culture, or the handling of her case, with Katharine Murphy confirming a second staffer in the prime minister’s office was aware of at least some details:
Guardian Australia has now confirmed a second staffer currently employed in the prime minister’s office knew details about the termination of Higgins’ former colleague because that senior staffer was employed formerly as an adviser to Alex Hawke when Hawke was special minister of state.
In response to questions from Guardian Australia, a spokesperson for Morrison said: “Due to a previous role, the adviser was aware of the termination of the staffer involved in the security breach in Linda Reynolds’ office in March 2019.”
The government still won’t say whether the staffer who is alleged to have raped Brittany Higgins received a termination payout.
In other news, the vaccine roll out continues – this morning, Anthony Albanese will receive the vaccine in Canberra.
There was some kerfuffle over whether Albanese and the prime minister were both meant to receive the vaccine together, which obviously went out the window when Scott Morrison received his on Sunday. Never let a health message get in the way of politics, I suppose.
We’ll cover all of that and more as the day rolls on. Just a reminder that we are pre-moderating comments to protect both you and us given the legalities around some of what we are covering. If you need to reach me, you can find me here – with the amount of messages I am receiving lately, it is the easiest place for me to catch them.
You have the usual crew – Katharine Murphy, Paul Karp, Daniel Hurst and of course, Mike Bowers, to take you through the day. And you’ll have me, Amy Remeikis all day on the blog.
I’m just going to get my fourth coffee and we’ll get into it.