Wednesday 31 March 2021

Indigenous Military Service coin to be released next week


IMAGE: The Esperance Express

ABC News, 30 March 2021:

The Royal Australian Mint has launched a new coin to commemorate Indigenous Australians who have served in the military. 

The $2 coin, emblazoned with artwork from Kalkadoon woman and artist Chern'ee Sutton, is designed to "tell the story" of Indigenous soldiers who serve, and have served, in the Australian Defence Force. 

The coin — an Australian-first — was unveiled on Tuesday morning and will enter formal circulation next month ahead of Anzac Day. 

Ms Sutton said creating the artwork behind the design was a "huge honour". "I am so proud to have designed the artwork which recognises my brothers and sisters who bravely fought in every conflict Australia has been involved in," she said. 

"[They] have served Australia since before they were recognised as Australian citizens or allowed to vote.

"They fought for our country and they sacrificed their lives and I think it is so special to be able to acknowledge and recognise that.".....

Showers over Easter but thankfully no big rain dumps to spoil the Northern Rivers long weekend

Well La Niña may be over this time around and the Clarence River and tributaries may have fallen to pre-flood levels, but the rain has not quite gone away.

The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting the likelihood of showers every day for Grafton and Yamba up to at least 6 April 2021.

This applies to the Northern Rivers generally - so a slightly damp Easter long weekend is on the cards.

Currently the waves along the Clarence Coast are running at 1- 2ft+ off a SSE  breeze, but are expected to pick up for the long weekend. So hopefully the surfers will enjoy their Easter break.

NSW SES Yamba and Maclean Units would like to thank our community for their support during recent severe weather event.


Clarence Valley Independent, 30 March 2021:

As flood levels fall across the Clarence Valley and recovery actions are in full swing, our local NSW SES members and emergency services continue to respond to calls for assistance while cleaning up and restocking their resources to prepare for any future events or call outs.

Over the past week, the Yamba and Maclean SES members have been working 24/7 attending to 134 requests for assistance, 21 flood rescues, 3 road crash rescues, multiple urgent medical evacuations and assisting ambulance transporting people across floodwaters.

NSW SES Yamba and Maclean Units would like to thank our community for their support during this severe weather event. Together these Units have approximately 25 members and during severe events, rely on community to help with various tasks. During this event the local Yamba Surf Life Saving Club and spontaneous volunteers from the community helped fill a whopping 30 cubic metres of sand for sandbags.

Chief Superintendent Steve Patterson said, “We would like to thank our local SES volunteers for their dedication and support to their communities. This includes our appreciation to their families who support them behind the scenes.”

We also wish to thank the employers of our volunteers for releasing them and allowing them to volunteer with the NSW SES to support their communities,” Chief Supt. Patterson added.

NSW SES Yamba Unit Commander George Szekely reinforced Chief Supt. Patterson’s appreciation and added that the Clarence Valley needs to remain prepared for any future events…...

NSW Labor's Janelle Saffin MLA sends Easter Greetings


Office NSW Labor MLA for Lismore, Janelle Saffin, 29 March 2021:

Janelle wishes constituents a safe, enjoyable Easter break

TWO years after being declared State Member for Lismore, Janelle Saffin has thanked all constituents for the honour of representing them and wished everyone a safe and enjoyable Easter break with loved ones and friends.

Ms Saffin said local communities across our Electorate of Lismore were still recovering from the unprecedented challenges of drought, bushfires, floods and COVID-19 -- a perfect storm of natural disasters and a global pandemic.

We have faced the most trying of times since the two World Wars and the Great Depression and we have supported each other to come through this, exemplifying the resilience country people are known for,” Ms Saffin said.

I regard Parliamentary representation as a calling and approach being a State MP with the same drive and energy as I did as Federal Member for Page for six years and as a Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) for eight years.

I use my Parliamentary and life experience to help my constituents and their families, community, sporting, arts and cultural groups, businesses and industries, and local councils, to tackle difficult issues, and try to get resolutions wherever possible.

I also work to ensure that our precious natural environment, our river catchments and national icons like the koala, are afforded adequate protections so that they can be enjoyed by future generations.

I will continue to strongly advocate for local communities in the Electorate of Lismore to get our fair share of NSW Government funding and support, particularly as we navigate the new normal of COVID-19.”

Ms Saffin urged people to contact her Electorate Office for assistance in person at 55 Carrington Street, Lismore; by telephone on 0266 213 624 or via email –

Tuesday 30 March 2021

Locals need to keep an eye out - cane toads are on the march again in the Clarence Valley


Clarence Valley Independent, 24 March 2021:

They’re ugly, they’re poisonous, they’re invasive.

And they’re here, in the Clarence Valley.

Since their introduction into Australia 86 years ago, the cane toad has thrived and rapidly expanded its distribution since the first 3000 hopped into the cane fields of North Queensland after being released by the Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations in an attempt to control the native grey-backed cane beetles which were decimating sugarcane crops and subsequently, impacting the Australian sugar cane industry.

With no natural predators or diseases which affect their population in the country, cane toad numbers exploded at an alarming rate and their presence has had devastating consequences for several native species including the northern quoll and red-bellied black snake, which often mistakes the cane toad for native frogs, only to succumb to their toxins after eating them.

After the first reports of cane toads in the Clarence Valley made headlines when the invasive species was discovered in Yamba in 2003, the recent devastating bushfires around Whiporie and Rappville, north of Grafton, have resulted in the creation of favourable travel routes for the ground-dwelling predator.

With areas of bushland and forestation cleared following the bushfires, cane toads have hopped their way south along the Summerland Way and breeched the southern containment line, the Clarence River, within the past 12 months.

In late 2020, a new population of cane toads was discovered at Mountainview, close to Grafton, when local landholders first became

aware of the recent arrivals after hearing them calling to one another across the paddocks.

A report was made to the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) who alerted local organisation Clarence Landcare to the huge biosecurity risk on their doorstep.

Clarence Landcare Educational Officer Kelly McRae, along with coordinator Debbie Repschlager, attended properties in Mountainview and confirmed the presence of cane toads, prompting them to take evasive action.

Funded and supported by the New South Wales Government through its Environmental Trust, the Clarence Cane Toad Education Project in partnership with the DPI Invasive Species Unit, Clarence Valley Conservation in Action (CVCIA), Clarence Valley Council (CVC), Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation and Office of Environment and Heritage (OHE) and National Parks and Wildlife Services, aims to raise community awareness of the invasive species and educate Clarence Valley residents of the importance of correctly identifying cane toads and managing their numbers on their properties.

“The number of cane toads is significantly growing in the Clarence Valley, especially considering the wet weather the area is currently experiencing, and we want to get the community actively involved so together, we can help to stop them spreading,” Ms McRae said.

“A lot of people don’t realise cane toads are in the Clarence Valley.

“We’ve had outbreaks at Brooms Head, Shark Creek and Gulmarrad, and it’s really important people become aware of them because they pose a huge biosecurity risk, not only to native animals within the Clarence Valley, but also to the environment and people’s pets as well.”

Utilising their funding, Clarence Landcare is enabling cane toad controllers to be on the ground throughout the Clarence Valley, speaking with community members and liaising with local landholders to encourage people to do their own cane toad control……..

Describing cane toads as quite easy to catch, Ms McRae recommends people use gloves or place their hand inside a plastic bag when picking up cane toads, therefore avoiding contact with the toxin produced by the bulging glands on their shoulders. 

Once caught and secured in the plastic bag, the cane toad can then be placed into the fridge for up to 24 hours before being removed and put into the freezer for 48 hours. 

Ms McRae said the cold temperatures lull the cane toads into a sleep state and therefore, they are humanely euthanised before they can be disposed into the red bin. 

“It’s important that people ensure they are dead prior to being placed into the bin to reduce the risk of them escaping and subsequently, breeding again,” Ms McRae said. 

“Our aim is to stop the cane toads before they damage our local environment and unique ecosystem.

“We all need to work together to prevent them spreading further.”......

Monday 29 March 2021

Commonwealth, Westpac, ANZ & NAB banks spending billions financing the fossil fuel industry


The Rainforest Action Network supported by a great many non-government agencies has created an interactive website packed with data and published a report titled BANKING ON CLIMATE CHAOS 2021.

Here are just four excerpts from this report:

  • In the 5 years since the Paris Agreement, the world’s 60 biggest banks have financed fossil fuels to the tune of $3.8 trillion. Runaway funding for fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure fuels climate chaos and threatens the lives and livelihoods of millions.

  • These banks poured a total of $3.8 trillion into fossil fuels from 2016–2020. Fossil fuel financing dropped 9% last year, parallel to the global drop in fossil fuel demand and production due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And yet 2020 levels remained higher than in 2016, the year immediately following the adoption of the Paris Agreement. The overall fossil fuel financing trend of the last five years is still heading definitively in the wrong direction, reinforcing the need for banks to establish policies that lock in the fossil fuel financing declines of 2020, lest they snap back to business-as-usual in 2021

  • JPMorgan Chase remains the world’s worst banker of fossil fuels over this time period, though its funding did drop significantly last year. Citi follows as the second-worst fossil bank, followed by Wells Fargo, Bank of America, RBC, and MUFG. Barclays is the worst in Europe and Bank of China is the worst in China.

  • ...the current wave of bank commitments to reduce their financed emissions to “net zero by 2050,” as well as related policies like measuring and disclosing financed emissions, and emphasizes that no bank making a climate commitment for 2050 should be taken seriously unless it also acts on fossil fuels in 2021. Moreover, until the banks prove otherwise, the “net” in “net zero” leaves room for emissions targets that fall short of what the science demands, based on copious offsetting or absurd assumptions about future carbon-capture schemes, as well as the rights violations and fraud that often come hand in hand with offsetting and carbon markets.

According to the report, between 2016 and 2020 the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and the National Australia Bank (NAB) committed $6.24 billion and $4.43 billion respectively to the total global financing of the fossil fuel industry. While the ANZ Bank contributed a hefty total of $15.22 billion and Westpac $6.5 billion.

All four banks financed fossil fuel expansion by the top 100 fossil fuel companies, as well as financing fuel production based on tar sands and LNG.

The Commonwealth Bank, ANZ and Westpac financed ventures in the Arctic and offshore areas.

ANZ also financed production companies involved in fracking.

All four banks financed coal mining and coal power companies over the same five year period.

The four banks were given dismal  policy scores out of 200 points, ranging from 13.5 (Westpac), 14 (NAB), 18 (CBA) to 22.5 (ANZ).

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, along with 39 other heads of government, will be attending a U.S. Leaders Summit on Climate on April 22 and 23, which will be live streamed for public viewing.

Given his lack of enthusiasm for any “zero emissions” target and his government's paucity of effective climate change mitigation policies, it is highly likely that at this summit Morrison – rather than representing the nation – will be representing the commercial interests of these banks, along with those of the fossil fuel mining & production sectors .

Sunday 28 March 2021

My Health Record not always helping people prove they have a medical condition that prioritises them for a COVID-19 vaccine

The Australian Digital Health Agency which became fully operational on 1 July 2016 is the System Operator of the My Health Record system.

It appears that its record keeping may not be living up to expectations created at the time by then Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Health Sussan Ley.

Before booking an appointment it may be wise to check if you have sufficient proof of eligibility if you are not being vaccinated against the  COVID-19 virus at your usual GP practice.

The Daily Telegraph, 27 March 2021:

It has cost taxpayers $2 billion but the My Health Record is proving useless when it comes to helping people prove they have a medical condition that prioritises them for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Two million Australians who have an underlying medical condition are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine under phase 1b, which began this week, but many will be unable to get it at their regular GP. Only 1000 GPs are approved to provide the vaccine and one in three GPs decided not to apply at all.

This means many patients will need to provide some kind of proof to an unfamiliar medical practice that they have a condition that qualifies them for a priority vaccination.

The Department of Health’s website warns: “If you are not eligible or cannot demonstrate your eligibility when you arrive for your vaccination, you may be asked to leave.” It states that a clinic’s records may be relied on as evidence at their usual doctor. At an unfamiliar practice “accepted evidence” includes My Health Record or government-issued documents with date of birth.

Bronia Nowaine has a cardiac problem and, as advised by the Department of Health, had planned to use her My Health Record as proof of the condition so she could get a COVID-19 vaccine.

But when she opened her My Health Record online to see if it would be of use, she was shocked to discover it was virtually empty.

Earlier this year we revealed doctors and hospitals are not using the record. GPs look at the record in fewer than 1 per cent of consults and hospitals use it in just 2 per cent of cases. Ms Nowaine said she was annoyed at having to find another way of proving her eligibility. “If I was to fall down in the street and an ambulance needed my information they should be able to get it but it seems they wouldn’t,” she said. 

The Daily Examiner presence in the Clarence Valley further diminished


In 2016 the Australian Consumer Competition Commission (ACCC) gave the nod to U.S. based News Corp’s purchase of Australian Regional Media (ARM) from APN News & Media.

The Daily Examiner print newspaper and news website were part of that purchase.

On 27 June 2020 after 161 years of continuous editions, The Daily Examiner was printed and distributed for the last time, as more than 100 regional newspapers were sent digital by the new owner of ARM.

The masthead’s paywalled website remained as

However, recently 'rationalisation'  has seen this masthead website disappear and all traffic now redirected to

This redirection to The Daily Telegraph is occurring across many NSW & Qld regional news websites held by News Corp.

Saturday 27 March 2021

Iluka NSW Population 1,746: in March 2021 a small village with a big heart reminded the Morrison Government that women have a right to R.E.S.P.E.C.T.


Clarence Valley Independent, 24 March 2021:

Around 60 women and eight men joined together in Iluka on Monday of last week in the Clarence Valley march4justice protest march, organised by Berri Brown (Iluka) and Robin Thomas (Woombah) to say, “Enough is Enough”.

Berri Brown, shared her reason for protesting, saying that, “Domestic violence is about emotional, financial and verbal abuse. I want things to change so that my little girl will be able to go about her day in the knowledge that whatever she decides to do in her future she will never have to be silenced or not be believed if this was to happen to her”.

Guest speaker Prue Leggoe OAM of Maclean said, “Of the 60 women present only one woman put up her hand to say she had never experienced sexual harassment or abuse. One of the men attending said he was there to stand for his two daughters who had experienced sexual abuse. This is a devastating statistic”.

Prue added that is seemed that nothing had changed since she had experienced sexual harassment when a Member of the Victorian Parliament 40 years ago. “It seems to have gotten worse in Parliaments, where power is used to manipulate and frighten an abused person, and workplaces continue to be unsafe for many women and men.” She said…...

Quote of the Week


Cathy Wilcox

Friday 26 March 2021

Liberal Party women are beginning to openly speak truth to power


IMAGE: NSW Liberal Party

Catherine Cusack (left) is a member of the NSW Legislative Council, hailing from the Northern Rivers region. She has been a member of the NSW Parliament since 2003,was the first female NSW Young Liberal President in 1985-1986 and sat on the Liberal Party Executive 2000-2003.

Here she speaks about behaviours displayed by men within her own party - cronyism, rampant self-interest, alcohol abuse, election campaign dirty tricks, pushing female politicians in front of the cameras when questions get awkward, male colleagues expecting support from women for their flagrant abuse of power.

The Guardian, 25 March 2021:

I joined the Young Liberals in 1982 when things were definitely on the up for women. It was an exciting time – a youthful Nick Greiner was state leader, Rosemary Foot his deputy. I found an amazing peer group that was not bored to tears by my interest in politics. I met my future husband there – we are both former YL state presidents. When our sons, now aged in their 20s, joined, we were jokingly accused of trying to establish a monarchy inside the YLs. The Liberal party has been my life.

I entered the New South Wales parliament in 2003. John Howard as prime minister openly celebrated his female MPs, whom he frequently credited with saving his government. In 2004 Chris McDiven became our first female federal president – but sadly the storm clouds had already gathered. This momentum for women came to a crashing halt with the brutal factional wars that transformed the culture and behaviour of the party, harmed our reputation and triggered an exodus of ordinary members.

Howard had tried unsuccessfully at the 2003 Adelaide federal convention to warn of the dangerous path we were on. “I think factionalism is weakening and eroding the strength of this party and the respect of this party in the Australian community,” he said.

As he feared, his message fell on deaf ears. The Howard government’s 2007 campaign was derailed when high-ranking Liberal volunteers were arrested in the dead of night letterboxing a fake Labor campaign brochure. The destructive factional wars and resultant toxic behaviours had gone too far – a halt was called to the infighting and a small group of factional leaders agreed to share power. And so began the Liberal boys’ club that has been calling the shots ever since.

We have some young men on big salaries, doing aggressive factional work … they are intoxicated with power as well as alcohol”

The factional system relies on compliance and patronage, so straight away the idea of merit-based selection went out the window. This doesn’t just affect women – it affects everyone. Even Mike Baird needed a special deal to secure Liberal selection for the 2007 election in Manly. Favours given and favours repaid is how this works.

In other states, this model was nicknamed “the NSW disease”. Unfortunately, it spread. It has escalated.

An MP might be asked to allocate a staff position to a factional operative and in exchange his/her preselection is assured. Step away from the factions and they might all combine to unseat you. In this way, the factional model is part taxpayer-funded.

So now we have some young men on big salaries, doing aggressive factional work out of some ministerial and MP offices. And they are intoxicated with power as well as alcohol. Their bosses need to bear much of the blame. They legitimise and tolerate behaviours that serve their own self-interests in terms of getting and retaining power.

There are many reasons why women across Australia so triggered and upset by what’s going on in Canberra. Personal experience, solidarity with the victims – but most of all it has been the sense of powerlessness they feel when the issues are seemingly dismissed. It has happened over and over again and this time they are telling us: “Enough!”

Maybe there are bubbles inside the Canberra bubble? I don’t know – I am just convinced the PM needs to seek out and listen to his female MPs, who have their own stories to tell.

An alleged rape has occurred inside the citadel of Australian democracy.

Our prime minister needs to be told why people are so angry. And it’s up to his female MPs to take it to him direct.

It’s not really a choice any more. For years there has been a ludicrous expectation by Liberal leaders that we female MPs can be wheeled out to defend these disgusting behaviours. When the power to fix the problem lies with them – not with us.

It has reached the point where our personal integrity is being publicly pitted against our loyalty – it’s upsetting and embarrassing and, frankly, they should not be asking that of us.

Tell him.

Step up, be hopeful and make the case for change. Most importantly, back one another. The moment has chosen us.

Tell him.

And conservative women in the media have begun to join in....

IMAGE: The Sydney Morning Herald

Niki Savva is a journalist who has worked in the media for around thirty years. Her mid-career employment outside of journalism was as a press secretary to then Australian Treasurer and Liberal MP for Higgins Peter Costello for six years, before becoming a policy adviser to Australian Prime Minister and Liberal MP for Bennelong John Howard for four years. She is now employed by News Corp.

The Australian, 24 March 2021:

There were a few things Scott Morrison got right with his mea culpa press conference on Tuesday. The first was that he had it. It was at least a sign that the Prime Minister finally realised just how much trouble he was in.

He has floundered for five weeks. Revelations by Peter van Onselen of yet another scandal close to home spurred him to front the media to talk about floods, then apres that deluge he tried to construct a shelter from the other deluge threatening to drown him.

He tried everything. He was repentant, he sought forgiveness, he admitted he made mistakes, he promised to make amends without saying exactly how, he allowed his emotions to overflow as he expressed his love for his family and his faith.

Morrison was tearful in front of the media, then choked up again as he walked into his party meeting, before he even spoke, although that might have had more to do with the way his press conference ended, with yet another disaster, than how it began.

He had to take a moment to compose himself before urging his female MPs to be trailblazers like Dame Enid Lyons, the first woman elected to the House of Representatives.

Liberal women have suffered by allowing themselves to be chained to the talking points, to become the new Stepford Wives of politics, often forced to defend the indefensible. Now at least they are free to talk about quotas.

That is useful, although quality of the candidates as well as the capacity of the leader to consult, listen and act matters more. Also, hearing women of influence bemoan the toxic culture they helped perpetuate by bullying other women is sickening. But that’s a column for another day.

One of the many problems faced by Morrison during this rolling crisis is that the case against him and the failure of government to protect women has been prosecuted largely by women. The government’s senior women, compromised or timid or too ambitious to even think about breaking out, have held back.

The defence, such as it is, has been mounted largely by men, mainly the Prime Minister, although one of the best suggestions came from Russell Broadbent for a national gathering of women, which Morrison says is already in train, which came as a surprise to people.

Strong, articulate women, such as Grace Tame, followed by Brittany Higgins, began the essential difficult work of demolishing structures that have protected predators. Their cause was relentlessly, devastatingly pursued by Labor frontbenchers Tanya Plibersek, Kristina Keneally, Penny Wong and Catherine King, the Greens’ Sarah Hanson-Young, crossbenchers Zali Steggall and Helen Haines, and a slew of opposition backbenchers. It’s a bomb squad planting devices, detonating or defusing them.

And Morrison and his government have been spectacularly, conspicuously, inept in their responses. Unfortunately, the reset the Prime Minister had embarked on literally ended in tears.

In portent and content it was biblical, full of thunderbolts and lightning, following a sadly familiar pattern. So much about it was wrong. It was too late coming. Too much of it was about him. Too much of it didn’t stack up. There were too many deflections, too many straw men and women, and it climaxed with vengeful threats of retribution after he was challenged by a journalist.

Morrison was not criticised (Twitter aside), as he sought to imply, for discussing the rape allegations made by Higgins with his wife, Jenny, or for talking about his daughters. He was criticised because he had failed to grasp the gravity of the situation himself. His wife had to explain it to him, and even after that he lapsed again, like in his scripted speech effectively telling March 4 Justice protesters they were lucky they were “not met with bullets”. He sort of apologised for that by saying he hadn’t meant to offend.

Careful attention needs to be paid to every event and every word because of the slippery, tricky words or technicalities used by others and by him to extricate or protect him or change the conversation. They go like this: don’t ask, don’t tell; don’t show and don’t tell; if you don’t know, you can’t be blamed; even if you do know, it doesn’t mean you have to accept responsibility; keep denying, even if you have misled parliament, because eventually the story will move on.

It has been a wretched and shameful period for the government. So many important matters surfaced that the Prime Minister claimed not to know or hadn’t made it his business to find out, compounded by the other thing he purported to know that never happened…..

Read the full article here.

Thursday 25 March 2021

The Liberal Party of Australia showing its dark ugly side......


The failure to understand that the toxic misogynistic culture within the Liberal Party is not acceptable to the community at large continues to rip the party apart.

This is what said about one of its “team”, Speaker in the Tasmanian Legislative Assembly and current Liberal MLA for Clark Sue Hickey (left), on 12 March 2021:

Sue Hickey has proven experience and commitment to public service with six years in local government and over 30 years in small business.

Sue was elected as Lord Mayor of Hobart in 2014, she is a former Telstra Tasmanian Business Woman of the Year and she has an MBA (Masters of Business and Administration).

As a strong, thinking woman, Sue has an enormous capacity for hard work and a record for getting things done!

This webpage has since disappeared and on 22 March 2021 ABC News reported that Speaker Hickey was not being endorsed as a Liberal Party candidate at the next Tasmanian state election due to be called on or about 14 May 2022. 

Her personal website as MLA for Clark is now password protected and therefore no longer visible to the general public. She has announced that she will now be standing as an Independent at the next election.

In an ABC Northern Tasmania radio interview on 23 March 2021 Ms. Hickey spoke about a conversation she had with a then unnamed, high profile, elected federal member of the Liberal Party.

Subsequent to this interview she released this statement under parliamentary privilege, the contents of which Liberal Senator for Tasmania Eric Abetz denies:

That statement was followed by this.....

By midday on 24 March 2021 the Tasmanian Premier and Liberal MLA for Bass Peter Gutwien has passed the problem back to where it belongs, on the desk of the Australian Prime Minister & Liberal MP for Cook.

ABC News, 24 March 2021:

Tasmania's Premier has written to the Prime Minister, urging him to "consider" accusations Liberal senator Eric Abetz "slut-shamed" alleged rape victim Brittany Higgins.

In a written statement, Peter Gutwein said Tasmian Speaker Sue Hickey told him several weeks ago that Senator Abetz had made offensive comments — which he has since strongly denied — but not to the level of detail raised in the state's Parliament this morning.

Late on Wednesday, Mr Gutwein acknowledged Senator Abetz had denied making the comments.

But he added: "A few weeks ago Ms Hickey raised this matter with me but not to the level of detail that was in her statements today and did not make a formal complaint to me or request that I take any action.

"As Ms Hickey has outlined her allegations in more detail in the Parliament, this afternoon I have written to the Prime Minister and requested that he consider the matters raised."…...

Predictably, at 2pm on 24 March Prime Minister Morrison publicly backed Senator Abetz.

Australian Parliament, House of Representatives, Hansard, 24 March 2021, pp.43 &45:

Mr MORRISON (Cook—Prime Minister and Minister for the Public Service) (14:00): I note the statement that has been issued by Senator Abetz: Ms Hickey's defamatory allegations under parliamentary privilege are categorically denied. Allegations of rape are serious matters and have always been treated as such by me. Sexual assault is an issue on which I've been consistently outspoken including domestic violence. He goes on to make a number of statements. I'd refer the member to the senator's statement, as it's very clear that he completely denies those statements…..

Mr MORRISON (Cook—Prime Minister and Minister for the Public Service) (14:07): The comments that have been referred to by the Speaker are obviously repugnant. What I can only refer to is the absolute denial of those statements by Senator Abetz. Now, I was not a party to this conversation. There were two persons who were allegedly party to this conversation. I was not one of them; nor was the member who asked the question…..

Mr MORRISON: The matter has been absolutely denied by Senator Abetz, and that is a matter of public record, and he will continue to serve in the role that he has. Senator Abetz has been a significant contributor to the chamber opposite—to the Senate—over a long period of time. He has served his state and he has served his nation. He has served as a minister both in the Howard government and over the term of this coalition government since they were elected. So, he will continue to serve in the roles that he now serves in within the Senate. I can only refer to his complete denial of those allegations. But the actual comments that have been quoted of course the government would find completely and utterly repugnant.