What happened today, Sunday 19 September
We’re wrapping up for the evening, but before we do, here’s a summary of today’s major developments.
Victoria’s roadmap out of lockdown has been released on a day the state recorded 507 new local cases and one further death. At 80% single doses, estimated to be reached next week, tennis and golf will be permitted outdoors. Schools will reopen in stages from 5 October. Lockdown restrictions will be eased at 70% double doses, estimated to occur about 26 October. A further easing including home visitors, the reopening of retail and the expansion of venue caps will happen at 80% double doses.
Cross-border residents will be able to travel without a permit, excluding locked-down Albury. Many Victorians stuck in NSW will also be able to apply for a permit after LGAs were downgraded to “red zones”.
From tomorrow, the Covid rules will be the same across greater Sydney, except for restrictions around authorised workers in the 12 hotspot areas in western Sydney. Public pools will reopen from Monday 27 September. NSW recorded 1,083 new local cases and 13 additional deaths.
The ACT recorded 17 new local cases, six of which were linked. From tomorrow, the ACT will change its daily reporting to show the percentage of residents over 12 who have been vaccinated, rather than 16 and over, to reflect the expansion of the Pfizer vaccine to 12 to 15-year-olds.
And Christian Porter has resigned from the ministry with his portfolios going to Angus Taylor. It comes amid revelations Porter used a blind trust to partially pay for his now discontinued legal case against the ABC. Prime minister Scott Morrison said it was the “appropriate course of action”.
at 4.39am EDT
With that, I will hand you back to Caitlin Cassidy for the rest of the afternoon. Thanks as always for reading.
The full Porter statement runs to about 1,600 words.
The now-former minister has launched an extensive attack on the ABC – against whom he launched and then ended a defamation action.
He’s also criticised the “Twitter mob” who he has accused of “fierce and vengeful” attacks on him and his supporters.
He insists that while he does not know who the donors to the trust are, he has been assured that “none of the contributors were lobbyists or prohibited foreign entities”. Their desire to be anonymous, he speculates, “was driven by a natural desire to avoid the inevitable fact that for supporting me, the trial by mob would inevitably turn on them if they were identified”.
Thousands of ordinary people contacted me, expressing disgust at what the ABC had done. Even though I suspected action against the taxpayer-funded broadcaster was probably going to be financially unsustainable, as it ultimately was, I decided I had to commence action against the ABC.
Some people wanted to help in that course by supporting my defamation case. They contributed to a trust on the basis of confidentiality and a belief that their contribution would remain confidential within the rules of disclosure.
Whilst I have no right of access to the funding or conduct of the trust, on my request the trustee provided me an assurance that none of the contributors were lobbyists or prohibited foreign entities. This additional information was provided as part of my ministerial disclosure. No doubt the desire of some, possibly many, of those contributors to remain anonymous was driven by a natural desire to avoid the inevitable fact that for supporting me, the trial by mob would inevitably turn on them if they were identified.”
at 2.34am EDT
Porter ‘not willing’ to pressure blind trust to reveal legal donors
Christian Porter has just released a very, very long statement. I’ll give it to you in pieces but here’s the most important bits: Porter resigned because, he says, he was “not willing to put pressure on the Trust” to disclose the names of the donors to his legal fund.
I am not prepared to seek to break the confidentiality of those people who contributed to my legal fees under what are well-known and regular legal structures, including the confidentiality attached to the Trust contribution.”
Porter says he has “great personal and professional respect” for the prime minister but: “fully understanding the consequences, where I am not willing to put pressure on the Trust to provide me with any further information, I respectfully informed the Prime Minister that I would not place pressure on the Trust to provide me with information to which I am not entitled”.
Ultimately, I decided that if I have to make a choice between seeking to pressure the Trust to break individuals’ confidentiality in order to remain in Cabinet, or alternatively forego my Cabinet position, there is only one choice I could, in all conscience, make. Consequently, I provided the Prime Minister with my resignation earlier today. It is effective immediately.”
But Porter says he has already nominated for preselection for the next election, and will not resign from parliament:
I have previously stated my determination to contest the next election in Pearce and have nominated for preselection, and I have no intention of standing aside from my responsibilities to the people of Pearce.”
at 2.18am EDT
We’ll have more on this very soon, but just to reiterate, the prime minister Scott Morrison has announced that Christian Porter has resigned from the ministry and will move to the backbench.
The resignation, Morrison said, came after he was unable to confirm that the donors to a blind trust that partially funded his discontinued defamation action against the ABC did not amount to a “conflict of interest or perceived conflict of interest”.
“He cannot disclose to me who those donors are,” Morrison said.
But the prime minister insisted it was Porter’s decision to resign, and that it was about “upholding the standards” of the ministry.
“If he were able to do that, that would allow the minister to conclusively rule out a perceived conflict, and as a result of him acknowledging that, he has this afternoon taken the appropriate course of action to uphold those standards by tendering his resignation as a minister this afternoon, and I have accepted his resignation,” the prime minister said.
Moving on to submarines, Morrison is being asked when he informed the French government that he was abandoning the deal with them to build diesel submarines.
He says it was at about 8.30pm on the night before. But, he insists, the French had “every reason to know” that Australia had “deep and grave concerns” that the capacity of the submarines was “not going to meet our strategic interests”.
He’s asked whether he regrets the way he has dealt with the announcement to abandon the deal with the French which, you may have heard, has caused some consternation among the Europeans.
“I don’t regret the decision to put the Australian national interest first, never will,” he says, and then walks away. So that’s all from the prime minister.
Scott Morrison speaks to media during a press conference at Kirribilli House in Sydney. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP
at 2.32am EDT
Morrison is asked whether Porter will run again. He says he’s “not specifically aware” of where Porter’s preselection is up to, but that if he “wants to stand again” that will be up to the local party.
It doesn’t sound like Morrison is going to intervene to force Porter to resign from parliament, at this point.
at 1.57am EDT
Morrison is being asked whether it’s enough for Porter to resign from the ministry. That is, whether or not it’s appropriate for any MP to disclose a benefit from a blind, anonymous trust.
Morrison says, effectively, that that is nothing to do with him.
Well, you are now talking about a different set of issues which relates to the parliament and I am not the custodian of the parliament, the parliament is the custodian of the parliament. I am the custodian of ministerial standards and I have acted in accordance with those ministerial standards, I take them very seriously.
at 1.56am EDT
Onto questions, and Morrison is doing a nothing to see here show.
The review into Porter’s disclosure is not concluded, but Porter has “taken his own decision in relations to our discussions of the ministerial standards and that matter is now concluded”.
Morrison says the trust means Porter is “the beneficiary of an arrangement that prevents him from him being able to disclose to me in a way that would allow him to satisfy that he does not have a conflict of interest or a perceived conflict of interest, that’s how I’d describe it”.
“He cannot disclose to me who those donors are.”
Angus Taylor to take Porter’s spot in ministry
Morrison announces Angus Taylor has been appointed as the acting minister science and technology. Porter will move to the back bench.
at 1.48am EDT
Morrison says Porter offered his resignation to “uphold” ministerial standards.
He says that “over the course of the last few days” they’ve had conversations in which Porter has been unable to “practically provide further information because of the nature of those arrangements”.
That is, Morrison says Porter couldn’t tell him who funded the blind trust that he used to partially pay for his legal case against the ABC.
If he were able to do that, that would allow the minister to conclusively rule out a perceived conflict, and as a result of him acknowledging that, he has this afternoon taken the appropriate course of action to uphold those standards by tendering his resignation as a minister this afternoon, and I have accepted his resignation.
His actions have been about upholding the standards. Our discussions today about upholding the standards.
at 1.44am EDT
Christian Porter resigns from ministry
Christian Porter has “taken the appropriate course of action” and resigned as a minister, Morrison announces.
at 1.41am EDT
Scott Morrison is speaking now.
With that, I will hand the blog back over to Michael McGowan who will guide you through this afternoon’s news.
In non-locked down Adelaide, a culture war has broken out over a plan to direct the walking habits of pedestrians.
Guardian senior reporter Tory Shepherd spoke to the councillor who’s ambitious plan has divided a city:
Also, there should be a “dawdle” lane and a “walking with purpose” lane. Keep left: plan to direct Adelaide pedestrians to stay in their lane sparks unexpected culture war https://t.co/IYMRSJpahQ
September 19, 2021
Prime minister to hold afternoon press conference
Scott Morrison will hold a press conference outside Kirribilli House this afternoon.
The prime minister has called a press conference for 3.30
September 19, 2021
at 1.00am EDT
In other news, a large fleet of drones will be deployed along the NSW coast to protect swimmers and surfers from sharks this summer, AAP’s Gina Rushton reports.
The NSW government has almost tripled its shark management budget – with the $21.4m program to expand the use of drumlines, listening stations and the world’s largest fleet of domestic drones.
In the coming weeks, the government will work with coastal councils to make sure 50 beaches have a “shark-spotting eye-in-the-sky”.
Minister for agriculture Adam Marshall:
This summer season, we will be deploying over 100 SMART drumlines in nearly every coastal council area starting with Kingscliff, Tuncurry and Coffs Harbour next month. We will also continue the deployment of shark nets as part of the shark meshing program in the Greater Sydney Region while we measure the success of the expanded technology-led solutions.
The Humane Society welcomed the investment in non-lethal technologies but said the government needed to also end shark nets as called for by six local councils: Newcastle, Central Coast, Northern Beaches, Waverley, Randwick and Wollongong.
Marine biologist with the animal protection not-for-profit Lawrence Chlebeck said the nets entangle and kill harmless dolphins, turtles, rays and sharks.
at 12.43am EDT
Victoria’s case numbers could surpass NSW even if the state maintains its current restrictions:
some big numbers on deaths and cases under Victoria’s reopening roadmap, as modelled by the Burnet Institute
even *maintaining* VIC’s current lockdown restrictions could see daily cases grow to 1900 within a month, Burnet sayshttps://t.co/ioKwYc5wH8 pic.twitter.com/Wex8ezJYQg
September 19, 2021