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Anthony Albanese says issue of preferencing Greens at the election is a matter for Labor organisation

  • Written by Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Pro-Palestinian demonstrations in recent months have tested university administrators and the police. This week, federal parliamentarians, including the prime minister, erupted in outrage at the protests that have disrupted MPs’ electorate offices.

Anthony Albanese’s office in his Sydney seat of Grayndler has been closed and his electorate staff are working from the Sydney Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices.

The disruption of MPs’ offices, which is frustrating constituents, many of them seeking assistance on social security and similar issues, was raised in the Labor caucus on Tuesday.

The Greens have become the object of Labor and Liberal fury for their alleged role in encouraging the protests at electorate offices. They have reacted equally strongly to the criticisms.

Greens leader Adam Bandt on Thursday accused Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus of defaming him and the Greens and said he’d had his lawyer write to Dreyfus.

In a Wednesday interview, Dreyfus said he was very concerned about the Greens’ role in these demonstrations. He suggested the party and Bandt “have got something to answer for here in the way that they have been encouraging criminal damage of MPs’ electorate offices”.

In parliament on Wednesday Albanese accused “some Greens senators and MPs” of spreading misinformation. They had “engaged in this in demonstrations outside offices and online”.

“Our staff do work to provide assistance to people dealing with Medicare, social security, migration and other issues. They deserve respect, not abuse, not assault, not attacks on the office,” Albanese said.

“Enough is enough. The time for senators and members of parliament to continue to attend and inflame tension outside these offices must end.”

Dutton told parliament the offices of MPs were being “targeted with red paint, with vile messages of hate and discrimination and antisemitism, and it should be condemned. The Greens should condemn it instead of condoning it.”

Bandt said on Thursday Albanese and Labor were not the victims in these matters.

“The victims are the over 36,000 people killed in the ongoing genocide in Gaza. The hostages, and the 1200 people killed on October 7, compounded by the failure of the Labor government to take action against the Israeli government invasion.”

In question time on Thursday, the opposition asked whether Albanese would commit to preferencing Green candidates last in every seat at the election. Albanese said such matters were for the party organisation.

Labor traditionally receives the overwhelming majority of Green preferences.

In a follow-up question, the opposition asked whether, given the Greens’ antisemitic conduct and the Prime Minister’s condemnation of them, Albanese would rule out governing with their support.

Albanese replied that “we seek a majority government” and the ALP did not govern in coalition with any other party.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has decided not to commence a corruption investigation into the behaviour of six public officials involved in the Robodebt scheme, saying it would not add value in the public interest.

The NACC had received referrals regarding the six from the Royal Commission into the Robodebt Scheme.

In a Thursday statement[1], the NACC said it was “conscious of the impact of the Robodebt Scheme on individuals and the public, the seniority of the officials involved, and the need to ensure that any corruption issue is fully investigated.

"However, the conduct of the six public officials in connection with the Robodebt Scheme has already been fully explored by the Robodebt Royal Commission and extensively discussed in its final report. After close consideration of the evidence that was available to the Royal Commission, the Commission has concluded that it is unlikely it would obtain significant new evidence.”

The NACC also noted that five of the six officials had been referred to the Australian Public Service Commission.

A number of current or former officials have been found to have breached the public service’s code of conduct in their behaviour in relation to Robodebt.

References

  1. ^ In a Thursday statement (www.nacc.gov.au)

Read more https://theconversation.com/anthony-albanese-says-issue-of-preferencing-greens-at-the-election-is-a-matter-for-labor-organisation-231821

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