The Guardian 2024-03-12 10:01:07


Queensland and NSW lose GST as taxpayers fork out $5.2bn for WA’s special deal

Most states and territories will receive more GST revenue according to recommendations of Commonwealth Grants Commission

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Western Australia will receive $6.2bn more GST this year as a result of a Turnbull-government era deal backed by Labor, triggering $5.2bn in payments to other states to ensure they are no worse off.

Those are the recommendations of the Commonwealth Grants Commission (CGC), which on Tuesday released its latest report on the carve-up of GST between the states and territories.

Decisions of the independent commission are applied by the federal government as a matter of course, despite protests from states losing GST, which this year includes New South Wales and Queensland.

Victoria’s GST revenue will soar by $3.7bn compared with 2023-24, which the commission explained was “largely driven by its reduced capacity to raise mining revenue” and increased urban population and density.

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Due to the GST floor, introduced by the Turnbull government, states are guaranteed to receive 75% of the goods and services tax paid in their state, up from 70% last year.

According to the Commonwealth Grants Commission, this will see Western Australia’s GST distribution rise by $6.2bn relative to what it “would have under the previous GST distribution arrangements”. That was despite WA having “a very strong fiscal capacity, driven by its capacity to raise iron ore royalties”.

The report said the deal “lowers the GST relativities of the other states” but the commonwealth’s “top-up to the GST pool and no worse off payments ameliorate this impact”. Top-up payments will total $5.2bn this year, up from $4.8bn last year.

In February, Anthony Albanese recommitted to the GST deal, despite warnings that it will cost the commonwealth $50bn over a decade. The formula set by Turnbull’s government also guaranteed no state would be worse off under the deal until 2026 – an arrangement extended by the Albanese government to 2030.

The report said the Northern Territory is “estimated to receive the largest increase in per capita terms ($995 per capita)”.

The GST pool is estimated to grow from around $85bn in 2023–24 to around $89bn in 2024–25.

All states and territories received more GST than last year, except for Queensland, which will receive $469m less and NSW, which will receive $310m less.

The Grants Commission explained that their distributions “are estimated to fall, largely due to an increase in their relative revenue raising capacities”, particularly due to coal royalties and soaring land values.

GST needs were reduced by “above-average growth” in land tax capacity in NSW and Tasmania, and in property sales in Queensland, Western Australia and the ACT.

The Victorian premier, Jacinta Allan, welcomed the raise in her state’s revenue.

“We are pleased that the Commonwealth Grants Commission has recognised previous inequity in the GST allocation and that Victoria is receiving a much fairer share,” she told reporters in Geelong.

“There is still more work to be done when it comes to GST, which is why we will continue to push for the no worse off guarantee to be made permanent by the commonwealth government. It’s not fair that Victorians are subsidising other states.”

But the NSW government argued that the state’s GST share falling from 92.4 cents each dollar raised to 86.7 cents is the largest single year reduction since the GST was introduced in 2000 and amounts to being $1.65bn worse off.

The NSW treasurer, Daniel Mookhey, said the results show “how out of touch the Commonwealth Grants Commission is”.

“NSW takes most of the nation’s population growth, but is being punished by having its GST cut,” he said in a statement. “It is an absurd process in dire need of reform.”

The NSW appears to be preparing the ground for a budget deficit, with the finance minister, Courtney Houssos, noting “we have been honest with the people of NSW about the challenges our budget is facing since we were first sworn in”.

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WA floods: ‘serious welfare concerns’ for seven people, including four children, missing amid heavy rain

Parts of Goldfields, Eucla and south interior hit with six months’ rain in 24 hours, with severe weather forecast for coming days

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Police have said they hold “serious welfare concerns” for seven people missing hundreds of kilometres north-east of Kalgoorlie amid heavy rain and flooding that has cut off road and rail links into Western Australia.

Two vehicles, a beige-coloured Toyota LandCruiser and a white Mitsubishi Triton, were believed to have left Kalgoorlie-Boulder on Sunday between 10am and 2pm, making for Tjuntjuntjara, Kalgoorlie Police said on Tuesday.

Both vehicles contained elderly drivers, with the Mitsubishi Triton also containing five other passengers, four of whom are children aged between seven and 17.

“Concerns are held for the occupants of these two vehicles due to serious weather conditions. It is unknown how much food and water the occupants have in their possession,” police said in a statement.

Parts of WA experienced more than half a year’s rain in 24 hours over the weekend, with more than 155mm of rain recorded at Rawlinna, 900km east of Perth, since 9am Friday.

The Eyre Highway has been closed since the weekend and is likely to remain out of operation for several days.

The Trans-Australian Railway line has also been affected, with key freight routes running between WA and South Australia through the Nullarbor closed amid the rain.

The Bureau of Meteorology forecast totals of up to 130mm for parts of the Goldfields, Eucla and south interior districts on Tuesday.

Average rainfall for the area is about 260mm a year, with the resulting downpours wreaking havoc with transport routes.

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Flooding had affected large parts of the Eastern Goldfields, the central parts of the Eucla districts and much of the interior region around there, with many communities affected.

The rain came after a cold front moved across the south-west of WA on Saturday, and it brought significant moisture from the tropics to the eastern goldfields and interior of the state.

WA’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services issued a warning to residents in Carnegie, Rawlinna, Cocklebiddy and Eyre to seek shelter, stand clear of windows and refrain from driving through flood waters.

“This is not typical weather for south-eastern Western Australia,” DFES said.

“If you live in parts of the Goldfields, Eucla and South Interior districts you should take action and stay safe with severe weather to come.”

The DFES deputy assistant commissioner, Gary Gifford, told ABC Regional Drive the highway was expected to remain closed until the end of the week.

“With the forecast which the [Bureau of Meteorology] has provided us with regard to the unprecedented weather which is coming through the southern interior at the moment, we’re certainly planning towards three and five days at this point of view.”

The BoM senior meteorologist Joey Rawson said records had been “smashed” amid the downfall.

“We’ve just seen consecutive days of significant rainfall through that area. The 141mm that we had on Sunday just smashed any previous record at Eyre.”

Rawson said the previous record at Eyre, just south of Madura, was 81.2mm, which was recorded in 2011.

“This is an unprecedented event of heavy rainfall, and it is due to continue as well, we could see another 100mm in that area over the next 24 hours.”

Rawson said this was a “unique weather event” with many of the communities there rarely facing flooding this severe.

“The highway hasn’t been closed, completely closed, for a long time,” he said.

“Usually they still allow transport trucks to go through if there’s a smoke event, but it hasn’t been completely closed for many years.”

While it was uncertain how long the flooding would remain, the rain was due to ease later in the week, with the rain band expected to move on by Thursday or Friday.

Meanwhile, Christmas Island could be facing a tropical cyclone in the coming days, as a tropical low in the Indian Ocean tracks closer to the Pilbara.

The low is expected to develop into a cyclone later this week, with the possibility it will bring gale force winds to Christmas Island as it passes.

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Andrew Tate and brother Tristan arrested in Romania on UK warrant

British-American online influencers held on allegations of sexual aggression dating to 2012-15

The online influencer Andrew Tate was arrested for 24 hours in Romania on a British warrant, his PR representative has said, and the Bucharest court of appeal would decide whether to extradite him.

Tate and his brother, Tristan Tate, were detained late on Monday night on allegations of sexual aggression dating to 2012-15, which they “categorically” denied, his PR team said. The warrant was issued by Westminster magistrates court.

Tate and his brother live in Romania where they are awaiting trial for charges of rape, human trafficking and forming a criminal gang to sexually exploit women. They deny all allegations.

The Bucharest court of appeal was expected to make a decision on Tuesday on whether to execute the arrest warrant, the spokesperson added.

The spokesperson said: “This bewildering revival of decade-old accusations has left the Tate brothers dismayed and deeply troubled. They categorically reject all charges and express profound disappointment that such serious allegations are being resurrected without substantial new evidence.

“Andrew and Tristan Tate unequivocally deny all allegations and decry what they perceive as an exploitative use of the legal system. They are fully committed to challenging these accusations with unwavering determination and resolve. The brothers emphasise their belief in a fair and impartial legal process, despite the unsettling circumstances surrounding their case.”

Tate, a British-American former kickboxer, has amassed a significant following on social media. He has previously been banned from various prominent platforms for expressing misogynistic views and for hate speech.

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Shells from Captain Cook’s final voyage saved from skip

Important collection rediscovered during house-clearing includes numerous rare species

An internationally important collection of shells, including specimens from Captain Cook’s final voyage, has been rediscovered 40 years after it was thought to have been thrown into a skip.

More than 200 shells have been returned to English Heritage, which will put some of them on display in Northumberland this week.

It is a remarkable story that also highlights colonialism, the transatlantic slave trade and the human impact on the natural world. At its heart, it tells the little-known tale of the woman who collected them, Bridget Atkinson.

“It is really nice to be able to tell the story of a remarkable woman,” said Frances McIntosh, English Heritage’s collections curator for the north-east. “She is not a duchess or in high society in London and she’s not made it into the history books – but she is phenomenal.”

Atkinson was from a wealthy family but rarely strayed from their farm in Cumbria. Her lifelong passion was shells and she used her far-reaching connections to amass about 1,200 from all over the world.

While many collected them for decoration, Atkinson was interested in their science and geography. The shells passed down through the family, including her grandson John Clayton, who grew up with Chesters Roman Fort in his garden and whose collections form the basis of the museum at the English Heritage site.

In the 1930s, Atkinson’s items made their way to what is now Newcastle University. However, in the 80s, they were thrown out during an office relocation.

They were thought lost for ever – but it has emerged that a passing lecturer, the marine zoologist John Buchanan, retrieved them from the skip. His family, after clearing the house after their mother’s death, donated them to English Heritage.

McIntosh recalled the email from the Buchanan family. “I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I just thought, ‘this is amazing’ but then I thought … ‘What are we going to do? … I’m a Roman archaeologist!’”

Shell experts have helped identify and catalogue the collection, which includes specimens sent to Atkinson by George Dixon, an armourer on Cook’s third voyage around the world, on which he died.

McIntosh said the temporary display would not shy away from the more problematic aspects of the story, including the reality of Cook’s voyages.

There are also letters from Atkinson to her sons, some of whom had inherited sugar plantations in Jamaica, while others worked for the East India Company. In her correspondence, Atkinson asked her children to try to find specific shells for her collection. Some would have contained living creatures, with one instruction from Atkinson to “boil it until it is red”.

Tom White, the principal curator of non-insect invertebrates at the Natural History Museum, has been helping the project. He said the collection contained numerous rare species and described Atkinson as “one of the earliest known women to have amassed a scientifically significant shell collection from around the world”.

White said: “These would have been extraordinarily sought after in 18th-century Britain during the golden age of shell-collecting, when single specimens could sell for thousands of pounds.”

McIntosh said to discover the shells had “not only survived but been kept safe and well is nothing short of a miracle”.

Atkinson was fascinating in many ways: she also wrote down hundreds of recipes and cures for ailments, including worms, insanity and “mad dog” bites. One remedy, sadly missing the ailment, is rhubarb, laudanum and gin mixed into a pint of milk. Laudanum is a mixture of opium and alcohol.

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Russia’s FSB security service denied on Tuesday that Ukraine-based armed groups had managed to break across into Russian territory, the RIA news agency reported.

Russia said its force prevented crossborder incursions from Ukraine on Tuesday and forced the attackers to retreat with significant losses, Russia’s defence ministry said in a statement.

Earlier, at least two Ukraine-based armed groups purporting to be made up of Russians opposed to the Kremlin said they launched an incursion across Russia’s western border.

Reuters could not independently verify either side’s version of events.

The Russian defence ministry said the attacks took place around 3 am Moscow time (0000 GMT) and used tanks and armoured personnel carriers to target several locations on the Russian side of the border. It said Russian troops used missiles, artillery and air forces to repel the attacks.

Ukraine pounded targets across Russia on Tuesday with at least 25 drones and nine rockets, and the governor of Nizhny Novgorod region said emergency services were fighting a fire at the big NORSI oil refinery there.

Russia’s Kursk nuclear power plant said on Tuesday it was working normally after Ukrainian drone attacks on the region.

Russia’s defence ministry said its forces downed 25 Ukrainian drones over seven different regions.

Separately, the TASS news agency cited the FSB as Russian forces had killed 100 people and destroyed multiple armoured vehicles destroyed when fighting off attempted incursions.

The Kremlin added that the Russian military is doing everything necessary with regards to Ukrainian drone and missile strikes on Russian territory and remains on alert.

Russia’s FSB security service denied on Tuesday that Ukraine-based armed groups had managed to break across into Russian territory, the RIA news agency reported.

Russia said its force prevented crossborder incursions from Ukraine on Tuesday and forced the attackers to retreat with significant losses, Russia’s defence ministry said in a statement.

Earlier, at least two Ukraine-based armed groups purporting to be made up of Russians opposed to the Kremlin said they launched an incursion across Russia’s western border.

Reuters could not independently verify either side’s version of events.

The Russian defence ministry said the attacks took place around 3 am Moscow time (0000 GMT) and used tanks and armoured personnel carriers to target several locations on the Russian side of the border. It said Russian troops used missiles, artillery and air forces to repel the attacks.

Ukraine pounded targets across Russia on Tuesday with at least 25 drones and nine rockets, and the governor of Nizhny Novgorod region said emergency services were fighting a fire at the big NORSI oil refinery there.

Russia’s Kursk nuclear power plant said on Tuesday it was working normally after Ukrainian drone attacks on the region.

Russia’s defence ministry said its forces downed 25 Ukrainian drones over seven different regions.

Separately, the TASS news agency cited the FSB as Russian forces had killed 100 people and destroyed multiple armoured vehicles destroyed when fighting off attempted incursions.

The Kremlin added that the Russian military is doing everything necessary with regards to Ukrainian drone and missile strikes on Russian territory and remains on alert.

CSIRO claims new record for energy efficiency in lightweight printed solar cells

Lead researcher says use of machine learning meant over 10,000 cells could be produced and tested in a day

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Flexible, thin solar cells that are lightweight and portable may be a step closer to reality after Australian researchers claimed a new record for the amount of sunlight they can capture and turn into energy.

While traditional solar panels are rigid and heavy, the lightweight solar cells are made by printing ink on to thin plastic films.

“It’s the best demonstration that this is a viable method of making the solar cells,” CSIRO’s renewable energy systems group leader, said Dr Anthony Chesman, said.

The scientists, working in collaboration with researchers from four universities, claimed an efficiency record for fully roll-to-roll printed cells, in which all of the layers of the product were made using printing methods.

For a small-scale device they achieved efficiency of 15.5% and for a larger device measuring 50 centimetres square they achieved efficiency of 11%.

The results of the research have been published in the journal Nature Communications. Lead author and CSIRO’s principal research scientist, Dr Doojin Vak, said the efficiencies were made possible by integrating machine learning into the production process.

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“We developed a system for rapidly producing and testing over 10,000 solar cells a day – something that would have been impossible to do manually,” he said.

Vak said the team’s research had also removed the need for some expensive materials in production of the cells, such as gold, by using specialised carbon inks that could reduce production costs.

The emerging technology still trails the efficiency of conventional silicone solar panels and its potential use in the market is still some years away.

But Chesman said there were potential real-world applications for the lightweight cells in settings where conventional solar power might be less suitable.

He said this included scenarios where solar power needed to be deployed and transported quickly, such as disaster relief, or at construction, mining or agricultural operations where portable power might be required.

“There are people who want to use solar in spaces where silicone isn’t suitable,” he said.

He said the next steps were working towards production at a larger scale and commercialisation.

CSIRO has commissioned construction of a pilot-scale printing facility – a larger-scale printer that will allow for printing of cells in a single line. The agency is also looking for industry partners to work with to further develop and commercialise the technology.

“We’re very interested in the niche applications we can move towards now,” Chesman said.

The chief executive of the Smart Energy Council, John Grimes, said the technology could be applied in settings where traditional solar panels were too heavy.

“A good application is in places like chicken farms where the structure is not engineered to take heavy solar on the roof,” he said.

“Another is in scenarios like emergencies where you need deployable power.”

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Invalid visas issued to 149 people released from indefinite detention, Labor admits

Immigration minister blames ‘technical issue’ with visa class issued to cohort freed following landmark high court case

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The federal government has admitted issuing invalid visas to the 149 people released from indefinite immigration detention after the NZYQ case, with the potential for charges to be dropped against those who were redetained for breaching reporting and curfew conditions.

In the latest chapter of the high-profile immigration case, what has been deemed a “technical issue” in the visas given to the detainees – freed after a high court decision – has been discovered, meaning their visas were illegitimate.

The consequences are that those charged for breaching the conditions of those visas may have their charges dropped and be let free. The government is hurriedly reissuing fresh visas to the cohort, which will put them under the same rules, like ankle bracelets and reporting conditions, as they were initially meant to be.

7 News first reported the bungle on Tuesday night, detailing how the visas – Bridging Visa R – had been invalidly issued.

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Guardian Australia understands that the issue relates to Bridging Visa R requiring people be in a detention facility when granted that visa. Because the NZYQ cohort were ordered to be released from detention, the government believes their visas were not valid when granted.

In a statement to Guardian Australia, the immigration minister, Andrew Giles, said the issue was being “quickly resolved” and stressed there would be no changes to the visa conditions.

“In managing the cohort, the government became aware of a technical issue with the visas that the NZYQ-affected cohort had been issued. This issue dates back to the creation of the visa class in 2013,” Giles said.

“This issue is being quickly resolved and there has been no lapse in the constant monitoring of this cohort as a result of this technical matter. There have been no changes to visa conditions as a result of this issue.”

He said the government had “taken all necessary steps to protect public safety in an evolving legal environment”.

The government claims it only recently learned of the legal issue that has existed since the laws were created by the Abbott government in 2013. After a change to the regulations, the government is now regranting legitimate visas to the cohort, which is expected to fix the issue.

As of Tuesday night, that process remains ongoing. The visa-holders will be subject to the same conditions as originally envisaged.

But the development means the small group of NZYQ-affected people who were subsequently charged for breaching visa conditions, such as curfews or reporting to police, may have their charges dropped because the visa they allegedly breached was itself invalid. 7 News reported several had already been released.

The Australian federal police referred inquiries about the charges to the Department of Home Affairs. The department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday night.

The visa issue is not expected to affect state-based criminal charges that some NZYQ people had been accused of, such as theft or sexual harassment – only their alleged commonwealth visa breaches.

The shadow immigration minister, Dan Tehan, branded the developments as “incompetence”.

He called on the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, to “step in directly and sort out the mess happening under his leadership”.

“The Australian people can no longer continue to put up with this level of incompetence or failure to do due diligence. Once again this Labor government has made a mistake and then not been upfront with the Australian people,” Tehan said in a statement.

The deputy Liberal leader, Sussan Ley, called on Albanese to “give a full explanation” of the issue.

It is understood the government believes the matter has been resolved and will not require new legislation.

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‘I thought I was going to die’: women tell court of sexual assaults by fake Uber driver in Melbourne

Francesco De Luise sexually assaulted three women after lurking outside Melbourne hotspots pretending to be an Uber driver

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A young woman has described getting into what she believed was an Uber to go meet friends, and becoming trapped with the man driving the car as he sexually assaulted her.

“Being in that car that night, it felt like it was a weapon,” the woman, who cannot be identified, said in a statement to the county court of Victoria.

“I had no power over where it took me, how fast it went or what the driver did.”

She then expressed her horror at finding out the same man had attacked two other women.

“Again? He has done this again?” she said.

De Luise, 60, has admitted sexually assaulting three different women after lurking outside Melbourne hotspots and picking them up pretending to be an Uber driver between 2021 and 2022.

He pleaded guilty to rape, sexual assault and sexual activity directed at another person.

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Francesco De Luise, who has been on bail since December 2022, was taken to jail on Tuesday before his sentence later this week.

He attacked his first victim in January 2021, whom he picked up as she was leaving a Melbourne club.

De Luise pulled up and asked if she was waiting for an Uber, she said yes and got in the car.

The woman said she needed to vomit, but he continued to touch her.

“Come on, give me a shot,” he told her.

“Let me out!” the woman said.

He swore at her as she left, and the woman ran to a nearby McDonald’s where she burst into tears.

Initially she didn’t give a statement to police, but agreed to after being told of similar reports of offending.

De Luise’s car registration was then identified by officers after reviewing CCTV around the nightclub, and his solicitor confirmed he was the driver in December 2021.

Despite this, he went on and attacked two more women in June and September 2022.

One woman was waiting to get an Uber from outside Sidney Myer Music Bowl, after a night of drinking with friends, to be taken to an after party in Melbourne CBD.

De Luise pulled up, insisted she get into the front seat and said he needed to “take a piss” on the way.

He put his hand on her legs, before he started masturbating and told the woman: “I need two minutes.”

The woman escaped and took a photo of De Luise’s car before he drove away, reporting the incident to police two days later.

The third woman’s boyfriend had booked her an Uber home to his place after a night out in Richmond.

She got into De Luise’s car and became scared, realising the Uber her partner booked had cancelled.

“You don’t care, you got in the car,” De Luise told the woman before he raped her.

She stood before the court and explained her “lonely and dark” existence since the attack.

“I’ll never forget this is the night that I thought I was going to die … It’s something no person should ever have to experience,” she said.

Defence barrister Dermot Dann KC said De Luise had lost $6m in bad investments, turned to alcohol and was involved in a fatal car accident around the time he offended.

But Judge John Smallwood questioned how any of that would have led him to sexually offend, accusing De Luise of feeding police “a pack of lies” and victim blaming during his interview.

“He’s lying throughout his interview … each one he blames the victim, it’s dreadful,” he said.

De Luise, who is facing up to 25 years in prison, will be sentenced on Thursday.

He was supported in court by his wife and son.

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Mehreen Faruqi has legal win in ongoing Pauline Hanson racial vilification case

Judge rules Greens senator can use X posts, One Nation leader’s historical statements and racism experts’ evidence in the federal court case

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The Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi will be able to use statements from X users on how a tweet by Pauline Hanson made them feel, as well as examples of alleged racially charged statements from Hanson’s 30-year political career, in her racial vilification case against the One Nation leader.

Faruqi lodged a racial vilification case against Hanson last May after the One Nation founder told the Greens senator to “pack [her] bags and piss off back to Pakistan” in a tweet in response to Faruqi’s thoughts on the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Hanson is defending the racial vilification claim and has argued freedom of political speech.

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After Hanson declined to participate in a Human Rights Commission complaints process, Faruqi lodged her 18C case in the federal court, arguing Hanson had a long history of engaging in racist views.

As part of the evidence submitted by her legal representation, Marque Lawyers, Faruqi included statements from nine people who responded to an X survey Faruqi issued, asking people of colour how Hanson’s tweet had made them feel.

Sue Chrysanthou, who is representing Hanson, had tried to have the statements thrown out, arguing they were irrelevant, but Justice Angus Stewart ruled the autobiographical affidavits can remain.

Stewart also ruled that, in making her case, Faruqi can rely on evidence from racism experts on the impacts of racist statements and Hanson’s historical statements, although he agreed that Hanson’s “it’s OK to be white” Senate motion was protected under parliamentary privilege.

However, statements Hanson made about the motion outside parliament are able to be used as part of Faruqi’s case.

Faruqi’s lawyer, Michael Bradley, said his client’s case was “groundbreaking”.

“It is critical that the court is prepared to conduct a wide-ranging inquiry, informed by appropriate evidence. Because of the court’s ruling today, we are confident that this is what will happen.”

Hanson is also challenging the constitutional validly of section 18C as part of her defence, which has prompted the attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, to intervene and join part of Faruqi’s case to oppose that claim.

Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act makes it illegal for someone to act in a way that is “reasonably likely” to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” someone because of their race or ethnicity.

Stewart ruled that Hanson’s history would be relevant in an 18C case. The judge-only case will begin in the federal court next month.

Faruqi wants an apology from Hanson and a $150,000 donation to charity.

Hanson declined to comment on the evidence ruling.

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Australia’s aged care fees are under review. Will wealthy people have to pay more?

An expert panel has recommended people with a lot of super contribute more to aged care – but the government may not respond any time soon

The long-awaited report of the government-appointed aged care taskforce has recommended wealthier Australians be expected to tap into their superannuation balances to pay for more, in a bid to keep the system sustainably funded.

While the government is urged to remain the “major funder” of aged care, the expert panel said older Australians are now retiring with “greater wealth than previous generations”, and that those with the means should be expected to foot more of their own bills. The government is still mulling its formal response to the report, but has flatly ruled out new taxes or levies to pay for the system into the future.

What did the taskforce recommend?

Asked to look into keeping aged care sustainably funded into the future, the taskforce – made up of experts including academics, industry and care providers – said the government shouldn’t increase taxes, an idea raised by the recent royal commission into aged care.

Instead, it said older people with higher wealth – like those with large superannuation balances – could pay more for aged care.

“There are substantial intergenerational equity issues in asking the working age population, which is becoming proportionally smaller, to pay for these services,” the report said, recommending against a new tax.

The report said government should continue looking after all Australians to a reasonable level, with incentives for facilities taking on lower-wealth residents – to prevent the perverse outcome that homes focus on people who make extra contributions.

How would that work?

The taskforce continually spoke of making aged care funding and payments simpler and easier to understand.

The plan to ask for greater co-contributions said the government should continue funding the care component for all people, regardless of income, but those with higher means should make greater co-contributions “towards items that people have more likely paid for throughout their lives, like accommodation and daily living expenses”.

The taskforce gave the example of people choosing to pay more for subscription TV services if they wished.

The taskforce also raised the idea of phasing out by 2035 the refundable accommodation deposit (RAD), a large fee residents pay when entering care and have refunded when they leave, and instead moving to a rental-only system – in a bid to make fee structures simpler.

How much more would people pay?

The government hasn’t given indications of a dollar figure or percentage yet, details that are likely to come in their response to the report.

The aged care minister, Anika Wells, said any talk of dollars at this stage was “hypothetical”.

She told a press conference the taskforce’s consultations had found “people have told us they’re prepared to pay for a better service if it is a higher-quality service”.

Why is the report needed?

Governments have long raised concerns about Australia’s ageing population, with a larger proportion of citizens to enter retirement age and a lower number of working-age people paying taxes to support them.

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, said on Tuesday the proportion of Australians aged over 65 was set to double, those over 85 to triple and those over 100 to increase sixfold within four decades.

“There’s going to be an extraordinary amount of pressure,” he said.

What will the government do?

Wells and Albanese did not give indications of when the government’s response will come, with the PM not even confirming if it would be in the May budget.

The government has so far only ruled out a new tax, but Wells has indicated strong sympathy for moving toward the co-contribution model.

It’s also understood that the government is supportive of grandfathering any changes so they don’t negatively affect people currently in aged care.

Why has it taken so long?

Wells said it was “complicated, dense work” and the government has been “steadily working on our response”.

Asked by a reporter why there was no response available yet, considering the report had been handed to the government in December and that she was both the responsible minister and chair of the taskforce, Wells said decisions would go through cabinet.

“As for me personally, I spent nearly two years with a twin on each hip and a ministerial portfolio in each hand. These are things every Australian working woman juggles every day,” she said.

What is the industry reaction?

Patricia Sparrow, the chief executive of older persons’ advocacy group Cota, said many older people were keen to pay more for improved standards, but stressed the need for a clear safety net for those who can’t afford to pay.

St Vincent’s Care, the largest not-for-profit aged care services provider, urged the government to adopt the taskforce recommendations in full. Its CEO, Lincoln Hopper, said asking wealthier people to pay more of their care “is fair and meets the community’s expectations”.

The Aged and Community Care Providers Association chief executive, Tom Symondson, backed wholesale change, but conceded it was difficult to “balance the fairness” between either asking older Australians and the general taxpayer base to pay more.

“Aged care in Australia cannot continue to muddle along with Band-Aid solutions while the system crumbles,” he said.

What are politicians saying?

The Coalition said it had previously “offered bipartisan cooperation” on aged care, but now had “more questions than answers”.

The shadow aged care minister, Anne Ruston, and the shadow treasurer, Angus Taylor, were critical of the government for not yet revealing how it plans to fund aged care or how much older Australians should expect to pay. They also raised concern about workforce shortages and how aged care facilities could raise capital funds.

The Greens aged care spokesperson, Janet Rice, backed the concept of wealthier people paying more, but was concerned about the broader implications of a user-pays system. She urged the government to instead raise taxes on wealthy Australians and companies to pay for aged care.

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