Australia news LIVE: RBA says inflation has peaked; Other apps under scrutiny after TikTok ban

Key posts

  • Reserve Bank gives home buyers short-term reprieve
  • Birmingham says voters are ‘volatile’ and Liberals need to adapt
  • Liberals must shake off ‘nastiness’ to win back voters: Birmingham
  • Other Chinese-owned apps under scrutiny after Albanese’s TikTok ban
  • Donald Trump pleads not guilty to 34 criminal charges
  • This morning’s headlines at a glance
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Voice debate continues as Liberal party meets to discuss stance

And turning to the debate on the Voice referendum, where both Liberal MP Simon Birmingham and Finance Minister Katy Gallagher weighed in on their views.

When asked on RN Breakfast this morning, the Liberal senator wouldn’t say if he would support a free vote, ahead of a snap party room meeting today.

Simon Birmingham said the opposition was satisfied the Voice referendum would be conducted with integrity.Credit:Rhett Wyman

“I’ll keep my specific arguments for the shadow cabinet,” Birmingham, who is the Opposition Leader in the Senate, said.

But when pushed on the question, this was his response:

There are strong precedents in the most recent national votes for freedom in terms of the vote that people bring.

I think it’s important we respect the right of Australians to have their say, and that the legislation passed through the parliament for this referendum and even if we have concerns about it, we should respect that Australians will be the ultimate arbiters and judges of this. It is a challenging issue in some ways.”

Meanwhile, the Finance Minister Katy Gallagher said she accepted bipartisan support was the optimal way forward to a successful referendum.

“It seems to me that the opposition have been looking and searching for problems, and are in all states of bother about their position on this,” she said on RN Breakfast this morning.

“I would hope that there would be some in the Liberal Party room that recognise the position or the question that’s been asked to the Australian people is around recognition or consultation for First Nations Australia.”

She hoped there would be “genuine” discussions in the Liberal meeting today, and a “view to doing the right thing by history”.

Gallagher quizzed on whether unemployment benefit needs to increase

The finance minister says she is “sympathetic” to those who are struggling but had to ensure the upcoming budget was fiscally responsible.

Katy Gallagher was asked on ABC Radio National this morning about whether the unemployment benefit needed to be increased.

“I’m sympathetic to a lot of measures and requests for funding that come forward right across the board. There is no shortage of that,” she told RN Breakfast host Patricia Karvelas today.

Finance Minister Katy Gallagher says she is “sympathetic” to those doing it tough. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“The question for me as finance minister, is, how do we prioritise, how do we make some of that happen and still put together a budget that’s fiscally responsible.”

She said there was a whole range of worthy causes, and she was more sympathetic to them than previous finance ministers.

“We have to take decisions that balance all of that out.”

Gallagher said the reality was the budget couldn’t sustain it, and some decisions were going to come in time rather than all at once.

“Essentially, we can’t do everything all at once, and we cannot undo 10 years of damage in one economic update,” she said.

Finance minister says rate pause a ‘reprieve’ for homeowners

Finance Minister Katy Gallagher has spoken out about the Reserve Bank of Australia’s decision to pause raising interest rates.

She said the decision would allow the Reserve Bank of Australia to assess the impact of the past 10 months.

Finance Minister Katy Gallagher says the rate pause is a reprieve for homeowners.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“We know that there are a number of multiples, that one in five that will face coming off those fixed terms and into variable rates throughout the course of this year. And we know that that’s going to be pretty challenging,” she told RN Breakfast this morning.

“I think the pause will give a bit of reprieve to those that have been, you know, experiencing those increases,” she said.

“We need to be focused on that in the budget that we’re putting together.”

She said the country was facing a challenging set of economic circumstances

“That’s why, again, the decisions we’re taking … as we put our heads together on the budget, it’s really important to getting that balance right of addressing cost of living relief where we can, repairing the budget where we can, and making sure that we’re not adding to the inflation problem,” Gallagher said.

Reserve Bank gives home buyers short-term reprieve

The Reserve Bank has left open the threat of more pain for home buyers and businesses to quell inflation despite holding official interest rates steady for the first time in a year.

After lifting interest rates at its past 10 consecutive meetings, the RBA board on Tuesday decided to hold the cash rate at 3.6 per cent despite ongoing concerns about high inflation and the pressure on wages from a tight jobs market.

RBA boss Philip Lowe says inflation appears to have peaked.Credit:Michael Quelch

Bank governor Philip Lowe, who will address the National Press Club today to explain the RBA’s decision, said the move was partly driven by concerns over the global financial sector caused by the demise of America’s Silicon Valley Bank and the takeover of Switzerland’s Credit Suisse.

More on the decision here, as Finance Minister Katy Gallagher is set to speak about the issue shortly.

Vic Liberal divisions on trans issues ‘counterproductive’: Birmingham

Continuing with news from federal Liberal MP Simon Birmingham, who says the division in the Victorian party on trans issues was “counterproductive”.

On RN Breakfast this morning Birmingham was asked about the ongoing debate around trans rights and its impact on the Liberal brand.

“Having in the lead up to the Aston byelection, a debate ensuing in the Victorian division of the Liberal Party, around trans rights, Nazis, all of those sorts of things that were being thrown around was clearly very, very counterproductive,” he said.

Last month a Victorian Liberal MP Moira Deeming attended an anti-trans rights rally on the steps of the state parliament. Neo-Nazis gatecrashed the event and performed salutes.

The federal Liberal senator said while there needed to be space to deal with trans issues in international sporting organisations, and rules and laws.

“We should be clear that we’ve recognised families dealing with these issues, dealing with very challenging circumstances and deserve nothing but respect and support.”

The senator said some trans people may not have feel supported by the Liberals.

“They would have cause given the actions of some to not feel so … but I think the vast, overwhelming majority of my colleagues …do respect those differences,” he said.

Birmingham says voters are ‘volatile’ and Liberals need to adapt

Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham has spoken about change his party needs to make after losing the Aston byelection.

He said voters are “volatile” and no one should believe they would stick with a single party.

“We must acknowledge voters are very volatile nowadays,” he said on the ABC’s RN Breakfast this morning.

“We see that in the size of swings and movements that occur, and we shouldn’t think that there’s new generations or new cohorts of voters completely locked in one way or the other,” he said.

He said the Liberals needed to recognise people will listen for change, but they had to ensure the party had a “positive, compelling message” for voters.

“We don’t have to turn away from our values. We just have to make sure that we present them … [the] business party, entrepreneurialism, a party for families in a way that is also inclusive and compelling to all voters wherever they’ve come from and whatever their lives,” he said.

Birmingham, the elected leader of the Coalition in the Senate, is seeking a rethink of their message after the party’s brutal defeat at the Aston byelection last Saturday, while fellow Liberal moderates are also calling for a halt to “crazy culture wars” and “dog whistling” on ideological fights.

Liberals must shake off ‘nastiness’ to win back voters: Birmingham

One of the Liberal Party’s most senior figures is calling for urgent action to win back Australians by setting new policies on housing and climate change, while confronting dangerous perceptions that the party is intolerant, nasty and divisive.

Senator Simon Birmingham wants the Liberals to become a “party of inclusion” by ending rows over family structures and appealing to people who had turned against their movement – including women, migrants, city voters and the young.

Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Birmingham.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

The dire warning comes as Opposition Leader Peter Dutton convenes a meeting with federal Liberal MPs in Canberra on Wednesday to debate their stance on the Indigenous Voice, amid a growing debate about broader policies and his leadership.

Read more on what changes are proposed here. 

Other Chinese-owned apps under scrutiny after Albanese’s TikTok ban

The federal government’s decision to ban TikTok from its work phones has swung the spotlight onto other social media services owned by China’s technology giants and exposed a divide between MPs jumping to delete their accounts on the popular video app and those staying on.

Government Services Minister Bill Shorten deleted his account, which had about 12,000 followers, while Melbourne backbencher Julian Hill, who is parliament’s most popular politician on TikTok, with 146,000 followers, will keep his.

Chinese-owned social media app TikTok has been banned from being installed on any Australian government-issued devices.Credit:Alamy

Yesterday’s move has not halted the thawing of relations between China and Australia, with reports emerging that Beijing had issued an “in principle” invitation for Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to visit China later this year.

Read the full story here.

Donald Trump pleads not guilty to 34 criminal charges

Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 criminal charges relating to an alleged scheme designed to cover up an election-year sex scandal, in an historic moment that has upended the 2024 presidential race and further divided the US.

The former president’s motorcade left Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue to the court precinct in Lower Manhattan at 1.09pm (US time) and was escorted by his Secret Service detail into the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg about 17 minutes later, under one of the biggest security operations New York has seen.

Former President Donald Trump appears in court for his arraignment in New York.Credit:AFP

“Heading to Lower Manhattan, the Courthouse. Seems so SURREAL – WOW, they are going to arrest me,” the 76-year-old wrote on his Truth Social online platform as he made the journey with only a few aides and without his wife, Melania.

“Can’t believe this is happening in America.”

Trump was later ushered to a room on the 15th floor of the Manhattan Criminal Court to be arraigned by Judge Juan Merchan. He was not in handcuffs, but the usually brash Republican had a grim expression on his face as he entered the courtroom and did not make any comments or take any questions.

He pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts related to falsifying business records, which stem from a $US130,000 hush-money payment that his then attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, paid to silence adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.

For more details on the charges tune into our live blog, and read more on the hearing from our North American correspondent here.

This morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning, and thanks for your company.

It’s Wednesday, April 5. I’m Caroline Schelle, and I’ll be anchoring our live coverage for the first half of the day.

Here’s what you need to know before we get started:

  • Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham wants his party to shake off “nasty” label.
  • It comes as Opposition Leader Peter Dutton is set to meet his shadow ministers today to work out their stance on the Voice referendum.
  • The Reserve Bank of Australia decided not to raise interest rates.
  • Following the government’s TikTok ban announced yesterday, other Chinese-owned apps are now under scrutiny.
  • The liquidator of collapsed home builder Porter Davis warned new customers could lose thousands because they weren’t insured.
  • Meanwhile, NSW Premier Chris Minns new cabinet will be sworn in today, with women in 50 per cent of the government’s frontbench.
  • The man who kidnapped the sleeping Cleo Smith from her family’s tent in WA and held her captive for weeks will find out his fate today.
  • Former US president Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to more than 30 felony charges. For the latest updates on this story tune into to our dedicated live blog.
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