SPIES WARN PARTIES ON HACKING

Australian MPs and political party leaders will be briefed by the Australian Signals Directorate on how to keep themselves safe from politically motivated hacking, The Australian reports today. In the wake of the allegations of hacking of emails and blackmail in the US election, “key administrators and political leaders of the parties” will be warned that they are also vulnerable to hacking. The briefing will take place early next month. 

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT … THE FAIR WORK COMMISSION KERFUFFLE

Yesterday vice president of the Fair Work Commission Graeme Watson announced his resignation from the government agency with a blistering letter to saying “the operation of the workplace relations system is actually undermining the objects of the Fair Work legislation”. Parts of the letter to Governor-General Peter Cosgrove were published by the Australian Financial Review,  in what is an indictment on the leadership of FWC President Iain Ross.

Former PM Tony Abbott has taken to Twitter accusing the body of being “pro-union and anti jobs”.

Former FWC deputy president Brendan McCarthy is in The Australian claiming the workplace tribunal is not fit to set wages and workplace standards.

Business heads have called for changes to the body, but an industrial relations expert in The Guardian says the FWC is not anti-business.

SAFE AS (AFFORDABLE) HOUSES

New NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has named housing affordability as one of her priorities, which is probably for the best, with news the median house price in Sydney surged up to $1.1 million in 2016. Berejiklian named stamp duty, subsidising homes for first-home buyers and increasing housing stock as ways to get more people into the housing market. Another study says Sydney is the second least affordable city in the world.

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra: New Health Minister Greg Hunt and new Industry Minister Arthur Sinodinos will be sworn in today, along with Australia’s first indigenous federal minister, Aged Care and Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt. Sinodinos is quoted in the AFR today saying Australians shouldn’t get nostalgic about dying industries, as others will take their place. 

Melbourne: The Australian Open continues today, without any Australians in the singles draw. Daria Gavrilova was bundled out in straight sets by world No. 5 Karolina Pliskova last night. Gavrilova said her serve let her down. Roger Federer takes to Rod Laver tonight against Mischa Zverev, the German who beat world number one Andy Murray to make it through to the quarter final.

Buderim: One Nation leader Pauline Hanson is set to make an announcement today. It’s believed she will name LNP defector Steve Dickson as Queensland’s One Nation leader.

THE COMMENTARIAT

We needn’t wait for the US on trade — Craig Emerson (Australian Financial Review $): “Australia need not sit on the sidelines and watch America turn inwards. Instead, it could develop processes for negotiating a vast, new regional trade pact.”

Gladys Berejiklian: why she breaks the Liberal Party mould — Rachael Jacobs (Sydney Morning Herald): “She learnt alongside people from all walks of life, was given no special treatment, and hacked away at her own path to the top. She is a product of Australia’s public school system where everyone has the right to learn, regardless of gender, class, religion, disability or ability to pay.”

Bourke Street: We need to update a justice system opposed to change — John Silvester (The Age): “With this in mind, we should appoint a respected British judge to review our processes with a brief to cut down delays. That officer would be committed to our system of justice but would not be biased by established (and archaic) local conventions.”

Too many caught up in cycle of the sorry business — Nick Cater (The Australian $): “Now they want a treaty — ­between whom hardly matters, nor what the treaty should say — so long as it affirms the victimhood of the permanently oppressed and shames their oppressors.”

If you love Australia, change the date — Warren Mundine (The Daily Telegraph $): “Australia Day should be celebrated on January, 1, 1901. That’s the proper day to celebrate Australia’s independence, identity and nationhood because that’s the day Australia came into being and it’s a day everyone can unite behind.”

THE WORLD

US President Donald Trump has signed three executive orders today, slashing funding to aid groups that provide abortions overseas, withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and freezing the federal government from hiring new employees with the exception of the military. Trump spoke by phone with Egyptian President Fattah al-Sisi after talking to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday. The TPP had not yet been approved by Congress, but Trump’s order will remove the US as a signatory of the deal. — Politico / New York Times

Syrian peace talks being held in Kazakhstan have gotten off to a bumpy start, with rebel representatives refusing to meet President Bashar al-Assad’s representatives face to face, and both sides publicly swapping insults. Beyond the theatre, Iran’s role in any future peace deal has emerged as a substantial issue of disagreement. Co-sponsors Russia, Turkey, and Iran are pushing for a trilateral ceasefire commission, but the rebels do not want Iran involved in implementing or overseeing any such agreement. — The Guardian

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has issued a call for immigrants to “get out” if they don’t like the nation’s customs. Voters in the Netherlands head to the polls in March, and Rutte’s Liberal Party risks finishing behind Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration Freedom Party. Rutte pushed the message by taking out full-page advertisements in several Dutch newspapers. Even if Wilders’ party does become the largest after the election, they are likely to find it difficult to form the coalition required to govern. — BBC

Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has disciplined but not expelled a state leader who criticised Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial. Bjoern Hoecke had been cheered by some in the party when he said “Germans are the only people in the world who plant a monument of shame in the heart of the capital”. AfD is currently polling at around 10% on the national level. — Reuters

WHAT WE’RE READING

Hillary Clinton plots her next move (Politico): “The recently vanquished candidate has told some associates she’s looking at a spring timeline for mapping out some of her next political steps. Still recovering from her stunning loss, a political return is far from the top of Clinton’s mind, with much of her planning focused around the kinds of projects she wants to take on outside the partisan arena, like writing or pushing specific policy initiatives.”

The FIlipino Fox (Foreign Affairs): “Although Duterte’s erratic, populist persona has unnerved leaders on both sides of the Pacific, he is not the crackpot he is sometimes made to seem. Rather, when it comes to foreign policy, he is a rational statesman with a keen sense of his country’s interests.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

 

Peter Fray

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