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Australia politics live: LNP senator claims ABC story on children dressing up was ‘grooming’; Sarah Hanson-Young says claim is ‘deeply offensive’ | Australia news

ABC refutes Liberal senator’s claim story on children dressing up was ‘grooming’

South Australian Liberal senator Alex Antic has accused the ABC of “grooming” children, over a children’s story about dress-ups. Antic had issues with girls wearing pants, it appears, which Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young called out, particularly over the language he was using.

This is a rough transcript of what just happened in senate estimates, with ABC head David Anderson answering Antic’s “questions”.

Antic: Mr Anderson, I have got a couple of questions about some programming matters and at the moment the ABC is airing a program called Courtney Act: The Spectacular Suit, in which a male drag actor, Shane Jenek, reads a children’s book called The Spectacular Suit, about a female child wanting to wear male clothing. The program was rated G and has been heavily promoted on TV and on the app. Why is the ABC grooming children with this sort of adult content?

Anderson: Senator, I don’t see that as grooming children with our content. That particular program is reading from a book that is about dressing up so I think …

Antic: Female children in male children’s clothing, you think that’s not …

Sarah Hanson-Young: You mean young girls wearing pants? Seriously.

Antic: I have the call, thank you.

Hanson-Young: Well it’s offensive. It is deeply, deeply offensive.

Antic: If it’s offensive, you don’t have to hang around Sarah. You don’t have to hang around, Sarah, if you don’t want to.

Hanson-Young: Heavens above – girls wearing pants. That is the level of rubbish you are putting forward.

Antic: Okay. It is amazing what triggers a response. The truth. The truth that the ABC is grooming our children.

Hanson-Young: It is offensive and it needs to be called out.

Antic: You are welcome to leave.

Hanson-Young: Grooming is a really serious matter! It is not for being played with by conservative senators to make headlines.

Antic: That is what grooming looks like.

Anderson: My answer is we are not grooming Australian children.

Hanson-Young: Sexual assault survivors right around this country will be deeply offended, deeply offended by you playing politics.

Anderson is asked to answer the question again:


I was simply refuting the fact that we were grooming Australian children. Because we are not grooming Australian children … What we are doing, that is about dressing up.

Antic: Cross dressing. Let me ask you this, does ABC agree that transgender or cross dressing are adult concepts?


When it comes to transgender, yes, you can see there are people that wish to identify as a sex other than what they were born as, and I don’t accept what you are saying about somebody who is trans grooming Australian children. That’s not – that whole story time was not about that, it was about dressing up.

Key events

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Question time is coming up – there is no sign of any random storms so we should get through it with power intact this time round today!

Josh Butler

Labor senator Glenn Sterle likens Bridget McKenzie to a ‘naughty little girl’ in Senate estimates

The deputy Nationals leader, Perin Davey, has questioned the behaviour of the Labor senator Glenn Sterle, who referred to Bridget McKenzie as a “naughty little girl” during a Senate estimates fracas this morning.

Sterle, a government senator for WA, said he was “going to do my block” during a disagreement in the rural and regional affairs committee in Parliament House this morning. McKenzie, the Nationals senator from Victoria, was asking questions of a dairy organisation appearing before the hearing, and pushed back on interjections from other senators about her line of questioning.

McKenzie: It’s interesting – I’ve asked a legitimate question … I would like to continue my questions… you’ve both been yabbering at me.

“We’ve been going so well,” Sterle said, before McKenzie appeared to interject to defend herself. Sterle, the committee chair, then spoke up more loudly:

Sterle: Senator McKenzie, do you always have to have the last word? I was going to defend you then. Honestly like a naughty little girl, can you be quiet while someone finishes? You don’t have to have the last word… I’m going to do my block in a minute.

Glenn Sterle withdraws comment calling Bridget McKenzie a naughty little girl, after threatening to do his block.

Welcome to Ag Estimates November 2022. pic.twitter.com/Z7su0zm9a6

— Kath Sullivan (@KathSully) November 8, 2022

Sterle gave the call back to McKenzie, before further arguing with the Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson about the tone of discussions. Whish-Wilson asked Sterle to withdraw his comment, but Sterle refused.

You’re all as bad as each other… I will not withdraw it, I’m probably the easiest one to get on with.

McKenzie herself asked Sterle to withdraw, whereupon he apologised and said “you’re not a naughty little girl”.

We’ve contacted McKenzie’s office for comment, who declined to add any further to it. But Davey, the Nationals senator from NSW, tweeted in response to a clip of the exchange:

I wonder how Sterle’s comment fits with @AlboMP’s new standards of behaviour?

— Senator Perin Davey (@PerinDavey) November 8, 2022

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

Inquiry into alleged war crimes conducted by Australian special forces has expanded beyond Brereton report, investigators confirm

Investigators from the Office of the Special Investigator have not yet been able to travel to Afghanistan to investigate alleged war crimes – but they have visited third-party countries.

The OSI is the body set up to work with the Australian federal police on the investigation into alleged war crimes stemming from the Brereton inquiry into Australian special forces.

The OSI director general, Chris Moraitis, confirmed that the 36 incidents referred to OSI from the Brereton inquiry all remained under active investigation – and the OSI was also investigating additional matters:

Yes, senator, as well as other matters that have come to our attention beyond Brereton.

Moraitis said OSI sought “evidence where we can” but would not go into operational details. Moraitis said they had not yet been able to travel to Afghanistan (the complicated issue of engagement with the Taliban is a matter for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade).

The Greens senator David Shoebridge asked whether OSI’s investigators had “travelled to countries outside of Australia except for Afghanistan for the purposes of contact with witnesses and investigators”.

Moraitis replied:

Without going into details, the answer is yes.

(He did not say whether this included neighbouring countries such as Pakistan.)

Moraitis also told the hearing he was comfortable with OSI’s resourcing. He said the current headcount was 128:

We have the option of another 25 or so investigators. We don’t think we need that at the moment. In fact we’re quite happy with what we’ve got.

He said OSI had been in close consultation with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, but at this stage had not provided any completed briefs of evidence to it. He would not indicate how many partial briefs of evidence provided to the DPP – he said he would “prefer not to” disclose that publicly because he was “still in the process of investigation [and] finalising elements”.

Moraitis was vague about when he expected to send first completed brief of evidence to provided to DPP. If he was optimistic he would say “near future”, which he later clarified meant 2023.

ABS data shows over 100,000 people moved to Queensland over the last five years

(I think the headline for this AAP story should be that more Australians show good sense, but as a Queenslander, I would say that – Amy)

Far more people are moving to Queensland than any other state or territory, while NSW recorded the biggest net loss, Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows.

There was a net gain of more than 100,000 people to the sunshine state in the five years to 2021, according to internal migration numbers from the census. The biggest net loss was just south of the border, as 102,000 people moved out of NSW.

There were more modest gains in Tasmania and the ACT, with net increases of 15,000 and 10,000 respectively, while almost 10,000 people left Victoria.

Anecdotal stories of sea and tree changes are also backed up by the data, with a net loss of more than 160,000 from Australian capital cities.

Senior member of pesticides authority who is alleged to have urinated on fellow staff members has resigned, Senate told

Anne Davies

Anne Davies

A senior staff member of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority is alleged to have urinated on staff members at a function in Armidale in late 2021. He has now resigned, according to the APVMA’s chief executive, Lisa Croft, who was appearing before Senate estimates.

After initially denying that there were any current investigations into sexual harassment within her agency, Croft confirmed that she was “ aware of the matter” and that those directly involved had talked to her about it soon after the incident.

No official complaint was made.

But she confirmed there had been discussions with HR and that the staff member – a member of the executive team – “resigned soon after the event,” she said.

Croft insisted that the urination incident had occurred at a private event, not the office Christmas party as the Greens senator. Peter Whish-Wilson, had initially suggested in his question.

The APVMA has struggled to retain staff since being moved to Armidale in 2015 by the former agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce, whose seat includes Armidale. It has been wracked by poor morale and high staff turnover as a result of the move.

The minister for agriculture, Murray Watt, said he would be seeking an urgent briefing.

These are very concerning questions. It is certainly the first time I have heard about it and I will be seeking an urgent briefing.

Labor senator withdraws comment calling Bridget McKenzie ‘a naughty little girl’

It does not matter how frustrated you are, what your politics are, who it is directed towards, or what happened in the past – calling a woman “a naughty little girl” in a professional setting – the parliament no less, where the Respect at Work legislation was only just passed yesterday – is wildly inappropriate and the Labor senator Glenn Sterle deserved to be called out for it.

Glenn Sterle withdraws comment calling Bridget McKenzie a naughty little girl, after threatening to do his block.

Welcome to Ag Estimates November 2022. pic.twitter.com/Z7su0zm9a6

— Kath Sullivan (@KathSully) November 8, 2022

Defence minister calls for ‘industrial base’ across Australia to support defence

Richard Marles has spoken at the Submarine Institute of Australia conference, where he had a lot to say about, shockingly, submarines (the topic is kinda there in the title).

What does Australia need to prepare for nuclear submarines (referring to Aukus)?

Marles said:

Before we say nuclear powered submarines, submarines are hugely complex machines, so the process that we have gone through as a country in terms of … working out what capabilities we have to build the Attack-class … is not wasted effort … That is still highly relevant to understand what capabilities we’ve got and what we can bring to bear in this.

So I think before we talk about nuclear power, we are planning to build submarines in Australia still, and we’re planning to walk down that path pretty soon and pretty quickly. And so all the work that we had previously done in relation to getting people prepared to participate in Attack applies here.

… there are all the issues that I described in relation to nuclear stewardship which we need to be thinking through … it’s kind of, I almost feel, above my paygrade, but it is just the concept that everything is more far more robust. And so we need to be thinking about that.

And the final point I’ll make is, a lot of focus has been put on South Australia, that’s appropriate, that is where we will develop the capability to build submarines. WA is going to matter as well, it’s really going to matter. WA is obviously the home to our submarine fleet now [and] will continue to be that going forward and has I think, a very particular role play in the next few years. So we need to be thinking about our infrastructure there.

And then the final point I’d make is that to do all of this actually requires a defence industrial base across the country, so, this is going to require a significant national [attention].

What impact have the recent rains had?

These enhanced satellite images show northern NSW flipping from drought to flood over the last three years. This relatively rapid transition was capped off by the Murray-Darling Basin’s wettest October on record last month. 🛰️🌧️ pic.twitter.com/M2wqNzo5uz

— Ben Domensino (@Ben_Domensino) November 8, 2022

Josh Butler

Josh Butler

Coalition looking for ‘sensible amendments’ to anti-corruption bill

The Coalition is still hoping for “sensible amendments” to the government’s anti-corruption body, seemingly still committed to a higher bar for public hearings such as an independent judge’s approval.

In the opposition party room meeting today, a major point of discussion was the national anti-corruption commission (Nacc). A parliamentary inquiry process is ongoing, and the Coalition’s party room spokesperson said the opposition had the “expectation” that some of their amendments would be advanced, including further safeguards around issues like public hearings.

You might remember that the government’s bar for holding public hearings was that they should be “exceptional” circumstances only, which upset some crossbenchers and integrity bodies. The Coalition wanted an even higher threshold, calling for a senior judge to make that decision.

The Coalition party room heard around five contributions on the Nacc, with members querying processes around public hearings and claiming the Nacc could be a “point of delay” for infrastructure projects. No decision was made on whether the Coalition would vote for or against the Nacc, based on the success of further amendments, but negotiations continue.

Elsewhere, the opposition leader Peter Dutton called the budget a “stinker”, while David Littleproud described Dutton’s budget reply speech as a “watershed” moment. Littleproud also claimed the Labor government “aren’t talking about their budget at all”, which he said “spoke volumes” about cost of living pressures being felt by Australians.

Contributions from the Coalition party room included short addresses on cuts to infrastructure funding in their electorates, gas prices, and the annual politicians vs press cricket game over the weekend (won easily by the pollies, thanks to a handy batting knock from several backbench Coalition MPs).

ABC staff take issue with Sarah Henderson’s comments on working practices

ABC staff are not holding back in correcting the record following some of Sarah Henderson’s comments and questions during senate estimates today. The senator often cites her experience working for the ABC, which occurred during the 1990s.

Haven’t had time to see if @SenSHenderson has corrected the record after suggested we had 9 producers working on @RNDrive because I’ve been too busy prepping an interview for tonight’s show, two hours before my rostered start time. Suffice to say she’s wrong #AusPol

— Katie Hamann (@katiehamann) November 8, 2022

(As an aside, kids who were born when Henderson left the ABC are now primed for their quarter-life crisis. Go well, Gen Z. You’ll get through it. We all do.)

Coalition criticises apparent cuts to police and border force budgets

Karen Andrews is going hard on cuts today – here is the shadow home affairs minister on what she says is cuts to the AFP’s budget:

Today in Senate estimates, Australian Federal Police officials confirmed a cut of $18.46m to this crucial agency.

Since coming to office in 2013, the Coalition increased total funding to the AFP to $1.7bn.

In the March budget this year, the Coalition invested $170.4m to further develop the capabilities of the Australian Federal Police and Australian Border Force (ABF) over the next four years.

This funding was aimed at hardening Australia’s border against transnational, serious and organised crime (TSOC) by increasing the number of ABF officers at seaports, airports and warehouses and boosting the AFP’s specialist operational, surveillance and criminal asset confiscation capabilities.

Any cut to the AFP’s funding is an undermining of our national security and Labor needs to explain what program is now being underfunded by their short-sightedness.

Daniel Hurst is listening to that estimates hearing, so I asked him for some context:

The $18.46m figure is not a revelation from Senate estimates, although it was discussed during the hearing today. It appears in the AFP’s portfolio budget statement released at the time of the budget last month.

What does it involve?

The saving of $18.46m for the AFP is listed in 2022-23 as “savings from external labour, and savings from advertising, travel and legal expenses”.

This is part of a government-wide cross-portfolio savings measure announced in the budget. However, the same document shows total resourcing for the AFP will increase from $1.88bn in 2021-22 to $1.98bn this financial year.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2022/nov/08/australia-politics-news-live-updates-albanese-dutton-labor-cop27-floods-emergency-warnings-energy-coalition-ir-bill-covid-weather Australia politics live: LNP senator claims ABC story on children dressing up was ‘grooming’; Sarah Hanson-Young says claim is ‘deeply offensive’ | Australia news

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