‘SCARIEST MOMENT’: VOLLER’S DISTURBING EVIDENCE

Dylan Voller, the teenage detainee whom Four Corners viewers saw bound to a restraint chair with a spit hood over his head, gave disturbing evidence at the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in Darwin yesterday. Now 19, Voller was brought from the adult jail where he is now an inmate, and told the commission detainees were forced to defecate into pillowcases, that he was first strip searched at the age of 11 or 12 and was denied food and water as punishment. He described being teargassed at Don Dale Youth Detention Centre and said he threatened self-harm while he was being driven 1500 kilometres from Alice Springs to Darwin in the back of an un-air-conditioned police van with no food except a hot chocolate and a sandwich. He described the moment he was shackled to a chair with a spit hood over his head as one of the scariest moments of his life.

As Fairfax’s Michael Gordon writes, the testimony justifies PM Malcolm Turnbull‘s decision to call a royal commission into youth detention in the NT:

“The only moment his composure is threatened is not when he revisits an almost endless catalogue of shocking physical degradations and deprivations, but when he recalls the taunt of the case worker who told him his family did not care for him.

“That is when his eyes welled, his voice faltered, and counsel assisting the commission, Peter Callaghan SC, offered a respite from questions that was politely declined.”

DUTTON’S MAN NEGOTIATES WITH TRUMP OFFICIALS

Secretary of the Immigration Department Mike Pezzullo has visited the US to negotiate Australia’s refugee swap deal with officials from US President-elect Donald Trump‘s transition team, James Massola reports in an exclusive today. The meetings were designed to ensure the plan, which had been negotiated with President Barack Obama, still goes ahead despite the change in administration. Pezzullo has also spoken about the success of Australia’s Operation Sovereign Borders.

DON’T JUST WHISTLE A HAPPY TUNE

Wonder if Treasurer Scott Morrison is feeling the heat yet? Today The Australian reports rating agencies won’t take kindly to overly optimistic savings forecasts in next week’s mid-year budget update, with a Moody’s official telling the paper the agency will looking closely at the likelihood that announced savings measures will actually pass Parliament. On that note, the AFR reports some Liberal MPs will be fighting against one of the savings measures already touted to be announced — MPs with high youth unemployment want to keep the Green Army.

GET A JOB

The Courier Mail reports today that it’s not immigration pushing voters in regional Queensland towards One Nation — it’s unemployment. The jobless rate is high in areas that are polling well for Pauline Hanson‘s party, which is set to announce 34 candidates for the upcoming state poll.

WHAT’S ON TODAY

A heatwave will hit many states across the south-east of the country today, with detailed forecasts here.

Brisbane: The Queensland government will release its mid-year budget update, with Treasurer Curtis Pitt to announce a $2 billion surplus, $1 billion of which will be spent on a jobs plan.

Sydney: The NSW government is also releasing a healthy mid-year budget update. Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian will announce the government is on track to make a $4 billion surplus.

Darwin: The Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children continues, and today will hear evidence from a youth justice advocate who has worked with Dylan Voller.

Melbourne: A special report into misconduct at Victoria Police by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission will be tabled in Parliament.

Melbourne: Footballers Sam Mitchell and Trent Cotchin will be presented with their 2012 Brownlow Medals in a ceremony this afternoon after Essendon’s Jobe Watson handed back the honour in the wake of the club’s peptide scandal.

Albury: WBBL match between the Melbourne Stars and Sydney Thunder

THE COMMENTARIAT

Independent inquiry needs to look at Gillian Triggs’s 18C farce — Hedley Thomas (The Australian $): “Gillian Triggs finds it difficult to explain to senators her unforgivable botch-up of a racial hatred case against students for their Facebook posts. So let the head of the Human Rights Commission explain it under oath to an independent ­former judge in charge of a short, sharp independent inquiry.”

The notion of evidence-based policy in Australia is dead: — Richard Denniss (Australian Financial Review $): “Coalition MPs increasingly see their role as either “philosopher princes” who can divine the virtue of an idea by simply having had it themselves, or as ‘thought police’ who can veto the mere consideration of an idea proposed by members of their own Coalition.”

Teachers should be an example and that means speaking their minds on refugees— Nick Riemer (Sydney Morning Herald): “Politicians’ current attempt to silence teachers is the latest bid by the state to tighten its grip over independent institutions of civil society. ”

I Am Ashamed to Be Australian — Ashley Gilbertson (New York Times): “When I emigrated from Australia to the United States in 2003, it was out of disgust with our refugee policies. I didn’t think it could get worse than it was then. I was wrong.”

THE WORLD

Antonio Guterres has been sworn in as the new Secretary-General of the United Nations. The former Portuguese prime minister and UN high commissioner on refugees replaces South Korean Ban Ki-moon. His five-year term officially starts January 1, 2017. — Reuters

Syrian government forces are on the verge of recapturing the city of Aleppo, having reclaimed 90% of rebel-held territory. The fall of the city will represent a major victory for Bashar al-Assad. — Al Jazeera

US congressional leaders from both parties have backed calls for an inquiry into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The Washington Post reported on the weekend that the CIA has uncovered evidence that Russia aimed to tip the election in Donald Trump’s favour — New York Times

British Home Secretary Amber Rudd has announced neo-Nazi group National Action will be labelled a proscribed terror organisation and be banned. The anti-Semitic far-right group celebrated the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox and has praised Adolf Hitler. If Parliament approves the classification, wearing National Action branded clothing and organising meetings for the group will become illegal. — The Guardian

Israeli high school students are calling for a national biology exam to be rescheduled to avoid a clash with a Justin Bieber concert. The concert is the night before the exam and is Bieber’s first in the country in five years. — Washington Post

WHAT WE’RE READING

‘It’s like she’s a three-year-old’: What life’s like when your children never grow up (ABC Online): “Kara’s bedroom is filled with magazines — all from the ’80s or ’90s. She won’t read anything past the year 2000 except for The Australian, which she buys once a week from the local newsagent.”

Nazi Grave in Brazil Endures as Marker of Secret Plan to Colonize (New York Times): “Throughout their journey, the explorers from a self-described ‘master race’ had to rely on indigenous tribes to survive and find their way in the jungle.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

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Peter Fray

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