Conservatives hear call for Bolt defence. Opposition finance minister Andrew Robb, climate contrarian Ian Plimer and Stolen Generations sceptic Keith Windshuttle have rallied behind Andrew Bolt’s freedom of speech in a full-page advertisement published in The Australian today.

The advertisement is the initiative of the Melbourne-based Institute of Public Affairs think tank, which called for donations after Bolt was found guilty of breaching the Racial Discrimination Act last Wednesday. The case concerned a 2009 article in which Bolt claimed that nine fair-skinned Aborigines had played up being black for career advancement. Liberal MPs Mathias Cormann, Jamie Briggs and Mitch Fifield are among the 1261 donors to the IPA’s campaign, as are Liberal powerbroker Michael Kroger and former NSW Liberal leader Peter Coleman. — Matthew Knott (read the full story here)

Australian scientist becomes Novel physics laureate. Australia has its first winner of the Nobel Prize for physics since World War One, after Professor Brian Schmidt became the country’s 12th Nobel laureate last night. The ANU professor, who was born in the US, won the prestigious honour alongside fellow astrophysicists Saul Perlmutter and Adam Riess.

Perlmutter will receive one half of the 10 million Swedish kroner ($1.5 million) prize, with lab teammates Schmidt and Riess sharing the other half. The three were honoured for discovering the accelerating rate of the expansion of the universe by researching exploding stars, known as Type 1a supernova. — The Power Index (read the full story here)

Tough day at the tax forum. Angry unionists, warring associations, powerful CEOs trying to defend their pay packets and the enthusiasm of one particular independent: this tax forum’s got the makings of a day out at the circus. Pity the politicians looked a little uninterested.

Independent Bob Katter gave it his all, but appeared to be catching some shut eye about halfway through. Greens Senator Christine Milne was caught checking her watch and even Bill Shorten looked a little bored. — The Power Index (read the full story here)

Law enforcers: Tony Negus at #3. Don’t be embarrassed if you’ve never heard of Australia’s highest ranking police officer. Some of the country’s leading authorities on law enforcement haven’t either.

“I don’t even know his name,” former National Crime Authority chairman Peter Faris tells The Power Index. “He barely gets a mention, which I think is good. It shows that he’s on the job and not being a politician. “The function of a chief commissioner of police is to catch crooks, not to give press interviews.”

Indeed, Negus, a former rugby league second rower, has turned being dull into an artform. The Power Index scoured the public record for a single memorable statement that he’s ever made, but came up empty handed. In this regard, he couldn’t be more different to his predecessor Mick Keelty, who earned the moniker “Media Mick” because of his love of publicity. — Matthew Knott (read the full story here)

Peter Fray

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