DEBBIE HEADS FOR LAND

Cyclone Debbie is expected to make landfall near Bowen around 1pm, later than first expected. The storm was upgraded last night to a category four but has now slowed, potentially limiting the damage when it hits. The Bowen area is now under lockdown while there are also concerns for the impact a storm surge could have on low-lying Mackay.

COALITION SPLIT ON CHINA TREATY

Some Coalition MPs are considering crossing the floor to vote against ratifying a long delayed extradition treaty with China. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was forced to call an emergency meeting last night to head off opposition to the treaty, which would allow alleged criminals to be transferred between each nation.

The divides within the Coalition are now playing out in public, with backbencher Tony Abbott telling his good friend Greg Sheridan at The Australian that he would be “very, very cautious about ratifying this treaty at this time”. This contradicts Malcolm Turnbull‘s position: the PM has argued the treaty is necessary to continue joint law enforcement cooperation, especially in relation to preventing drug importations.

Pointing to “senior government sources”, the Herald Sun reports the fate of three Australian Crown employees being held by China could hinge on the ratification of the Howard-era treaty.

COST OF DOING BUSINESS

The Turnbull government is still trying to eke out a passage for its signature corporate tax cuts in the Senate. Pauline Hanson reportedly backs a tax cut for companies with under $50 million annual turnover. So too does Nick Xenophon‘s block, but under a perilous pre-condition: the government must first commit to an emissions intensity scheme.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Fairfax-Ipsos poll: Eight in 10 voters oppose Turnbull government’s 18C race hate law changes

Power wars: Politicians to blame for high prices

Top US studies centre rocked by ‘war of independence’

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Dharamsala: India need just 87 runs to defeat Australia in the final test and claim the Border-Gavaskar trophy after a batting collapse by the Australia.

Canberra: A Senate committee will table its inquiry into the Racial Discrimination Act.

Adelaide: The South Australian government will open a new tender to build a gas-fired power station.

Melbourne: The Melbourne International Comedy Festival will launch today.

THE COMMENTARIAT

We’re already relatively safe from terrorist attacks. Can we reduce the threat further? — Nicholas Stuart (The Sydney Morning Herald): “It’s never possible to write off the threat of something worse occurring, just as it will never be possible to dismiss the danger of similar attacks here. It’s worth, however, noting just how successful the current system has been in addressing the threat, overseas and here in Australia.”

As forecast, this is the future we cannot afford — Nick Cater (The Australian):  “In fact, the future is probably bleaker than Treasury’s present forecasts would have us believe, according to Tony Shepherd. The forecast that the commonwealth will return to surplus in the next few years assumes Australia extends its world-beating 25-year stretch of economic growth, the Senate passes all the government’s savings measures, and the economic outlook remains positive. Shepherd and his panel describe these as ‘somewhat heroic assumptions’.”

Melbourne International Comedy Festival has proved to be more than a laugh — Shaun Carney (The Herald Sun): “The unknown was whether the public enthusiasm would endure? Comedy was hot but when stuff runs hot in popular culture, you can expect it to eventually cool down. That’s never happened to our comedy festival. It just keeps getting bigger.” 

THE WORLD 

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been jailed for 15 days and fined 20,000 roubles ($350) for organising mass protests on Sunday and “resisting police orders”. Several hundred people have been detained after the rallies, which drew thousands of protesters and took place across the country, in cities as diverse as St Petersburg, Vladivostok, Novosibirsk, Tomsk, Moscow and others. The main reason behind the protests were Navalny’s accusations of corruption against Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. His arrest follows last week’s assassination of dissident former MP Denis Voronenkov in the Ukraine —BBC

Seven people have been killed in South Sudan in the worst single attack on aid workers since the start of the country’s three-year civil war. The aid workers and their driver — four of the whom were South Sudanese and three Kenyans — worked for Unicef partner Grassroots Empowerment and Development Organisation, and were attacked as they drove between the capital of Juba and the town of Pibor. Rebel fighters supporting former vice president Riek Machar say the government holds that territory and must be held responsible, while deputy minister of information Akol Paul Kordit told Reuters: “It will be counterproductive at this stage for anybody to rush for judgment without first allowing the truth to be established.”  — The Guardian

Seven Japanese high school students and an instructor have been killed in an avalanche at a ski resort about 190 kilometres north of Tokyo. Forty other people were injured, including two who were in serious condition, at the resort in the town of Nasu in Tochigi prefecture. According to Japanese media, the students were members of mountaineering clubs from seven schools in the area and were on the last day of a three-day training program. — Associated Press

WHAT WE’RE READING

The most expensive weapon ever built (London Review of Books): “On the night of 12 January, there was a series of explosions at Mezzeh military airport on the outskirts of Damascus. A few warehouses were destroyed but no one died. The Syrian government blamed rocket attacks launched from inside Israel … according to French intelligence sources the strikes had unquestionably been carried out by a pair of F-35s: not only that, but one of them had gone on to buzz Assad’s palace in a fuck-you show of force.”

Opiod addiction is eroding the life expectancy of Trump’s core supporters (Motherboard): “Opioid overprescription and addiction has been an increasing scourge in the US, killing 91 Americans every day, especially low-income white Americans … Trump performed best in the counties hardest hit by the opioid epidemic.”

Life after No. 10 is not what David Cameron was hoping for (The Spectator): ” ‘The problem is that David can’t really fill his day,’ says someone who knows him well. An old friend, who now sees less of him than he did, adds: ‘Dave found he was really good at the mechanics of being Prime Minister, and loved almost every minute of it. Obviously it leaves a hole.’ “

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW