Daily News Roundup

December 4, 2019

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4 

Controversial Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie has voted with the government to end the medevac laws that allow refugees to come to Australia for medical treatment.

It was a major win for the government in the last parliamentary sitting week and prompted Labor and the Greens to immediately accuse Ms Lambie of doing a secret deal with the Coalition.

The senator, who held the crucial vote on the proposal, has repeatedly refused to outline the details of her negotiations with the Coalition, insisting it was a matter of national security.

Her vote gave the Coalition the numbers it needed to repeal the laws, which passed the Senate on Wednesday morning.

“I am voting for the repeal of medevac because I am satisfied that the conditions that led to medevac being passed aren’t the same as the conditions today,” she said.

“The world in which this vote takes place is different and I thank the Government for working productively with me to make sure of that.”

The medevac laws, which give doctors more power to decide whether refugees on Papua New Guinea and Nauru should come to Australia for treatment, came in under the previous Parliament, when the Coalition was governing in minority.

The Coalition also gained the support of One Nation and soon-to-retire senator Cory Bernardi to win the final vote 37 to 35, with Labor, the Greens and Centre Alliance opposed.

“Labor and the Greens demanded the terms of any deal be made public before the Senate votes on repeal legislation to overturn the laws.

“Let me just make the most important point right up front — there is no secret deal,” the Government’s leader in the Senate, Mathias Cormann, told the Parliament.

“Let me repeat that again. There is no secret deal.”

Senator Lambie, who fought back tears as she spoke in the Senate, appeared to offer a different account to Senator Cormann.

She said her negotiations with the Government had satisfied her to support repealing the laws.

“I put up to the Government a proposal to work with me on to secure my support for the passage of the repeal of medevac,” Senator Lambie said.

“I’m not being coy or silly when I say I genuinely can’t say what I proposed.

“I know that’s frustrating to people and I get that. I don’t like holding things back like this. But when I say I can’t discuss it publicly due to national security concerns, I am being 100 per cent honest to you.”

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Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan has told state and territory governments to refocus on education basics after Australian students registered record low results in reading, maths and science.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report, released on Tuesday,found the maths skills of Australian students have fallen back at least a year compared to their international counterparts.

Mr Tehan admitted the outcome from last year’s results was disappointing and “should have alarm bells ringing” among state and territory governments.

“Our students should be ranked among the best in the world. We should not accept anything less,” he said.

Australia ranked 16th in reading, 29th in maths and 17th in science, while the grouped Chinese provinces of Beijing-Shanghai-Jiangsu-Zhejiang topped each category.

Australian students are now three-and-a-half years behind their Chinese counterparts in maths, three years in science and one-and-a-half in reading.

Mr Tehan said he would discuss what to do at a meeting of education ministers in Alice Springs next week.

He called on state and territory education ministers to back the entire National School Reform Agreement and include phonics as part of teacher training.

“My message to the state and territory education ministers is this: leave the teachers’ union talking points at home and be ambitious,” he said.

“Our school systems also need to de-clutter their curriculums and get back to basics.”

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A court has heard that millionaire Clive Palmer allegedly breached the copyright of a famous metal song in political advertising after he requested a licence and “didn’t like the price”, the ABC reports.

The report by Jamie McKinnell said Mr Palmer used a rewritten version of the Twisted Sister track We’re Not Gonna Take It in his party’s television and online advertising in January.

Universal Music launched an intellectual property case in the Federal Court, alleging the hair-metal band’s copyright had been breached and is seeking royalties.

In Sydney, the court today heard mediation in October “substantively failed”.

Universal’s barrister Patrick Flynn SC said the organisation would seek additional damages on top of the royalties.

“The reason the add damages case arises is the evidence Mr Palmer requested a licence from our client,” he said.

“He knew that he needed one. He didn’t like the price, is our case, and so he went ahead.”

Both parties will seek the opinions of expert musicologists to answer the question of whether the musical and literary elements of each track overlap.

The court heard Mr Palmer will partially rely on a defence of fair dealing for the purposes of parody or satire.