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The government’s planned February plebiscite remained a big feature of media coverage and is still getting plenty of hits on social media, with the focus now moving to the almost certain blocking of it by the Opposition. Almost all of the public debate is occurring between those who support same-sex marriage, a string of government MPs attacking Bill Shorten for blocking the plebiscite, while Labor MPs and most other supporters call for a parliamentary vote to be allowed.

The “serious” media have been all over the ever more complicated issue of Syria this week, with the ramifications of the coalition airstrike which killed over 100 Syrian government troops already being seen with a strike on an aid convoy, all supposedly during a ceasefire. While media access on the ground is pretty much non-existent, if ISIS does gradually lose most of its territory, it seems clear that the war will continue between the Assad regime and other rebels, with more tension between the US and Russia. An interesting early test for the incoming US President.

The wettest winter on record has had a nasty sting in the tail for large parts of Victoria, with flooding from the Great Ocean Road to the NSW border. This has been largely a traditional outlet-led story, with constant news reports from the flood scenes, although of course heavily augmented online by amateur pictures of the flooding. Despite all of those pictures, detail and information for those who might be affected drove most mentions.

Watched with the usual bemusement from afar that greets most State leadership challenges these days, the challenge to Australia’s longest serving Premier, Western Australia’s Colin Barnett, was another one that petered out almost as soon as it had got going. The polls are looking tough, and it’s been an extremely long run for someone who was on the verge of leaving politics altogether before Troy Buswell sniffed a chair all those years ago, but the Liberal Party are now locked in behind him for another tilt next March .

Social Services Minister Christian Porter used a very traditional National Press Club address to announce changes to welfare based on the New Zealand model, with the emphasis heavily on trying to ‘encourage’ people off welfare early on in groups that are of high risk of long term welfare dependency, like young carers and young single parents.

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Those who aren’t interested in politics or sport must be beside themselves that we have the first bit of proper celebrity schadenfreude for quite a while (we’re not willing to put Hiddleswift in quite the same league).

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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