Australia news LIVE: ASIO boss refuses to name ex-MP who ‘sold out’ country; States’ debt soars putting pressure on inflation

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Australia news LIVE: ASIO boss refuses to name ex-MP who ‘sold out’ country; States’ debt soars putting pressure on inflation


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Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley says she agrees with former treasurer Joe Hockey, who wants the identity of the politician who “sold out” Australia to be named.

ASIO director-general Mike Burgess said in his annual threat assessment that a former politician betrayed Australia and attempted to bring a prime minister’s relative into the orbit of foreign spies.

Ley was also on Seven’s Sunrise, and told the program that Burgess is doing a terrific job, but he should reveal the identity of the MP.

Deputy Leader of the Opposition Sussan Ley.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

“I agree with Joe Hockey that he [Burgess] does need to clear this up. It does cast a cloud over every single former politician, and we need information,” she said.

“We believe absolutely in keeping the community safe. In government, we provided record funding and reforms around foreign espionage laws and counterintelligence, and we all … are on a unity ticket about the importance of those things. But … he does need to clear this up.”

Education Minister Jason Clare has spoken about revelations a former politician betrayed Australia to foreign spies, backing the spy chief’s decision not to name the ex-MP.

ASIO boss Mike Burgess revealed the former politician’s actions during his latest annual threat assessment, but did not identity the person.

“This is not a game of Guess Who … this is serious,” Education Minister Jason Clare told Seven’s Sunrise this morning.

Education Minister Jason Clare doesn’t believe it’s appropriate to name the politician who “sold out” Australia.

Education Minister Jason Clare doesn’t believe it’s appropriate to name the politician who “sold out” Australia.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

“The boss of ASIO, the person who’s responsible for national security in this country has made the decision that if he was to reveal the name, then it would undermine the work that ASIO does to keep us safe.”

Clare said Burgess explained if he revealed sources and techniques, it could undermine the national security of Australia.

“I’m just glad we’ve got a security agency that caught this and stopped all of this in its tracks.”

ASIO boss Mike Burgess has ignited a political firestorm by alleging that foreign spies were able to cultivate and recruit a former politician while refusing to identify the figure at the centre of the scandal.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton called for the ex-politician to be named and shamed for disloyalty, adding that he suspected the MP who allegedly “sold out” their country was a former Labor MP from NSW with connections to China.

ASIO boss Mike Burgess said the case study he raised was a “historic matter that was appropriately dealt with at the time”.

ASIO boss Mike Burgess said the case study he raised was a “historic matter that was appropriately dealt with at the time”.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

In a speech on Wednesday night, Burgess also said the ex-politician had proposed roping a relative of a former prime minister into the foreign interference scheme.

Alex Turnbull, the businessman son of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, revealed on Thursday that he had been approached by suspicious Chinese operatives in 2017 and had reported the interaction to security agencies.

Find out more here.

The Victorian and NSW governments are driving a state borrowing binge, double the size of the federal government’s borrowings, that one of the world’s key ratings agencies warns is adding to inflationary pressures across the economy.

As new figures showed the federal budget narrowly improving through January, analysts from S&P Global said the combined debt carried by the states and territories would this year reach $600 billion for the first time in Australian history.

States have borrowed big for major projects such as Sydney’s West Metro, lifting their debt levels.

States have borrowed big for major projects such as Sydney’s West Metro, lifting their debt levels.Credit: Edwina Pickles

Federal government debt, despite warnings during the pandemic it would surpass $1 trillion, has remained relatively static over the past 18 months. Treasurer Jim Chalmers last year delivered the first budget surplus since 2007–08 and is expected to deliver another this financial year.

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Health authorities in Gaza said that Israeli fire on people waiting for aid near Gaza City had killed more than 100 and wounded 280, with one hospital saying it had received 10 bodies and dozens of injured patients.

A spokesperson for Israel’s military said there was no knowledge of shelling at that location. The military later said dozens of people were hurt as a result of pushing and trampling when aid trucks arrived in northern Gaza.

Palestinians wounded in an Israeli strike while waiting for humanitarian aid on the beach in Gaza City are treated in al-Shifa Hospital.

Palestinians wounded in an Israeli strike while waiting for humanitarian aid on the beach in Gaza City are treated in al-Shifa Hospital.Credit: AP

An Israeli source said troops opened fire at “several people” in the crowd who posed a threat to them.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ office said he “condemned the ugly massacre conducted by the Israeli occupation army this morning against the people who waited for the aid trucks at the Nabulsi roundabout”.

Here’s the latest on this news, from AP and Reuters.

Good morning, and thanks for your company.

It’s Friday, March 1. I’m Caroline Schelle, and I’ll be anchoring our live coverage for the first half of the day

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