‘Disaster’ for PM after rebel senator saga

Exiled Western Australian Senator Fatima Payman is expected to announce her future in the Labor Party within days. Picture: NewsWire/ Martin Ollman

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has jumped on the senator saga engulfing the Labor Party, claiming it’ll spell “a disaster” for the Albanese government in the next election.

Benched rebel senator Fatima Payman announce her exit from the ALP on Thursday, following her decision to cross the floor and vote with the Greens on a motion supporting Palestinian statehood.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese suggested in parliament Senator Payman would make a major announcement within days, and hinted she had potentially been strategising her exit for “more than a month”.

Weighing into the saga, Mr Dutton said the comment was a “political play” by the prime minister, and expected the first term senator to either “go out into another party,” or into “some independent collaboration”.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said Fatima Payman’s exit from the ALP would water down Labor’s chances of a majority government after the next election. Picture: NewsWire/ Martin Ollman

“What you know about Anthony Albanese is that he’s a lifer. He’s been in parliament for almost 30 years. He’s a tricky political operator, there’s no question about that,” he said.

He said if Labor wins the next election it’s likely they’ll be forced into a “minority government,” which could include the Greens, Teals, and “Muslim independents”.

“It will be a disaster,” he said.

“That is not the formula for bringing grocery prices down and for getting our economy back on track.

“Inflation will continue to rage under that sort of a government. Interest rates will go higher as we’re seeing the Reserve Bank warn at the moment.”

While a scarce line-up of ministers fronted media following Wednesday night’s Midwinter Ball, Skills and Training Minister Brendan O’Connor reiterated the party lines and said the situation involving the senator was “disappointing all around”.

Senator Fatima Payman broke Labor’s cardinal rule when she crossed the floor to support a Greens’ motion on Palestinian statehood. Picture: NewsWire/ Martin Ollman

“It’s entirely up to the senator to make a decision, but obviously the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party has its rules,” he told the ABC.

“I’m obliged, like every caucus colleague, to comply with those rules, and if a person feels they cannot, then they have to make a decision, there has to be consequences for not working as a team.”

Mr O’Connor reiterated Labor’s support for a two-state solution between Palestine and Israel but said the parliamentary blow up had taken the spotlight away from Labor’s cost-of-living policies.

“What we do know, though, is that this has been a terrible distraction. There’s 13.6m Australians are getting a tax cut this week, $300 energy relief for every household, cheaper medicines, fee-free TAFE, and so on – that’s the focus of the government, trying to deal with the cost-of-living pressures,” he said.

“So, this has been an unfortunate distraction because we want to focus on the things that matter to everyday Australians as they seek to deal with, you know, cost-of-living pressures.”

Albo mints $2bn ‘Top Secret’ cloud deal

The Albanese government will spend at least $2bn on a Top Secret Cloud deal with Amazon Web Services, which will store highly classified and sensitive information.

The purpose-built project will be developed for Australia’s Defence and National Intelligence Community and create up to 2000 local jobs.

Defence Minister Richard Marles said it was a necessary investment in Australia’s defence capabilities.

“This cutting-edge technology will enhance Defence’s resilience, improve the ADF’s warfighting capacity, strengthen interoperability with key international partners and deliver up to 2000 Australian jobs,” he said.

“This significant investment is a reflection of the Albanese government’s sensible approach to prioritising the enabling capabilities our Defence Force needs in order to address the complex strategic circumstances we face.”

Stella Assange’s one-word post after release

Potentially celebrating the week following Julian Assange’s freedom, his wife Stella Assange has shared a photo of the couple.

Shared on X, the couple were pictured looking into the sky, and posing under a tree.

It was simply captioned: “Free!”

Ms Assange met the Wikileakers founder in 2011 when she was part of his legal team while he was fighting extradition to Sweden and facing sexual assault allegations. They married in a secret cereony while Mr Assange was imprisoned at Belmarsh, a high-security UK prison and share two sons Gabriel and Max.

Dutton flags battle on supermarket prices

Speaking to reporters on Thursday morning, Mr Dutton also took the opportunity to back in the Coalition’s supermarket divestiture policy, and increase competition in the sector.

However Mr Dutton took care not to offside the supermarket giants. He said he had a “very good working relationship with Coles and Woolies,” and had raised the topic of divestiture powers with both chief executives.

“I don’t have any problem in having a conversation with them, because I want to be very clear about our intent here. Our intent is to bring grocery prices down,” he said.

The Coalition have said they will campaign for supermarket divestiture powers which would be used as a deterrent to prevent Coles and Woolworths from abusing their market power. Picture: NCA NewsWire
The Coalition have said they will campaign for supermarket divestiture powers which would be used as a deterrent to prevent Coles and Woolworths from abusing their market power. Picture: NCA NewsWire

“If the Prime Minister doesn’t have the guts or strength of leadership to stand up to Coles and Woolies, I think the Australian public will vote for parties prepared to do so.

“We will make tough decisions to get our country back on track and to make sure that we provide for Australians and to put downward pressure on prices.”