NORTH KOREA THREATENS NUCLEAR WAR

US Vice-President Mike Pence has evoked his country’s attack on Syria while warning North Korea during a tour of South Korea. “North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region,” Pence said, after referring to the recent strike as evidence of President Donald Trump‘s resolve. Like members of the State Department, Pence added that the US would attempt to force North Korea to abandon its nuclear program “through peaceful means” but added that all options remained on the table. Over the weekend, North Korea unsuccessfully tested a ballistic missile, and concerns remain of an imminent sixth nuclear test. North Korea’s Vice-Foreign Minister has vowed more missile tests and warned the country was ready for “all-out war” and nuclear strikes if the US took military action.

ABBOTT SNIPES, LIBERALS RETURN FIRE

Tony Abbott has been told to resign by Liberal MP Warren Entsch, after the former prime minister yesterday used a column in The Daily Telegraph and an interview with Ray Hadley on 2GB to criticise his successor Malcolm Turnbull. Entsch told the Fairfax papers: “If it continues like this, this will be his legacy — and he won’t be remembered fondly. He’ll just be seen as a wrecker, hellbent on destroying an individual.” 

Yesterday Abbott wrote that “Middle Australia” was unhappy with the government and “people are sick of politicians who are more talk than action and are especially sick of politicians who change their policies to suit their political convenience”.

On Ray Hadley’s show Abbott called the Safe Schools anti-bullying program, which had its funding cut by the NSW government on the weekend, a “terrible, terrible program” and denied that he knew about the program his government launched it. A “senior Liberal source” in The Guardian denies this, with Paul Karp reporting Abbott knew about the program and defended it within the government.

Meanwhile The Australian reports that senior Liberals have refused to call Abbott on his latest outburst, with Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester and Trade Minister Steve Ciobo defending Abbott’s right to speak out as a backbencher. In February, when Abbott made similar comments, he was slapped down by his fellow Liberals, including Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, a previously close ally.

Of course, this isn’t a new narrative with Abbott — after promising no sniping or undermining when he was turfed from the country’s top job, he has made a habit of making “helpful” comments in the media at inopportune times for Malcolm Turnbull. We’ve been tracking these moments, with two volumes of sniping and undermining here and here.

IT’S THE ECONOMY STUPID

Deloitte Access Economics will release its Business Outlook statement today, and previews of the report in today’s papers take a few angles. The Australian Financial Review says the report contains a warning for Treasurer Scott Morrison, as the Australian economy is being propped up by both the strong Chinese economy and the housing boom, both of which are unlikely to last indefinitely.

While the Fin led with the warning, the Oz led with the positive out of the report, with the headline “China growth, interest rate cuts a $165bn boost to economy”. The Sydney Morning Herald focuses on the report’s comments about house prices, noting Sydney is particularly vulnerable to increases in interest rates.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Pregnant at 14, next bub at 16: Teen parents just ask for a chance to raise their children

Need for ‘national interest test’ to head off gas shortage

Drunk soldiers blamed for Manus rampage

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Tokyo: US Vice-President Mike Pence will be in the Japanese capital today after visiting Korea yesterday. 

Sydney: The minutes from the April Monetary Policy Meeting of the Reserve Bank of Australia will be released today.

Washington: The International Monetary Fund will release its World Economic Outlook report. The report, which includes both global and country-by-country forecasts, is expected to be more positive than recent reports.

Melbourne: The Legoland Discovery Centre will open at Chadstone shopping centre today.

THE COMMENTARIAT

How the Turkish referendum has split the community in Australia — Mehmet Ozalp (Sydney Morning Herald): “…the “no” vote was decisively ahead for Australian Turkish voters with 65 per cent, 52 per cent and 81 per cent “no” votes recorded in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra respectively.”

Case in point for those rich, amorous old guys — Chris Merritt (The Australian $): “When a multi-millionaire of 67 hooks up with an impecunious woman of 36 from eastern Europe, only a lunatic would fail to take steps to protect his assets. Yet the judges of the High Court have been asked to step in and fiddle with the sanctity of the institution that formed the basis for this couple’s marriage: their prenup.”

A vote for Marine Le Pen is a vote to end rule of self-serving elites — Adam Creighton (The Australian $): “If I were French I would vote for Marine Le Pen in next week’s presidential election. Not to do so would be to endorse the political and economic elites that have sapped the life out of ­industry, put the Fifth Republic on track for bankruptcy, forced taxpayers to bail out parasitic banks, and left the country exposed to Islamist terrorism..”

Stop swooning over Justin Trudeau. The man is a disaster for the planet — Bill McKibben (The Guardian): “That is to say, Canada, which represents one half of 1% of the planet’s population, is claiming the right to sell the oil that will use up a third of the earth’s remaining carbon budget.”

The brutal truth about why no-show Scott Morrison had to go — Ray Hadley (The Daily Telegraph $): “I made a decision he’d no longer be a guest on the program on two counts. One, the Treasurer or his office lied to me and secondly, since Malcolm Turnbull’s elevation to Prime Minister, Morrison has become less forthright and continues to avoid answering difficult questions. Tony Abbott will make his first appearance on Easter Monday.”

THE WORLD

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told critics to “talk to the hand” after a group of election observes from the European Council said a referendum granting him new powers was not a “genuinely democratic process”. The Erdogan-backed campaign for a Yes vote succeeded over the weekend, winning 51.4% of the vote, vesting significant new powers in the office of the president. The campaign took place during a major crackdown on media and opposition figures, exposed massive internal divides in Turkey, and might have finally ended the country’s bid to join the European Union. — Reuters

At least 28 people have been killed in Sri Lanka after flooding caused a rubbish dump to collapse, inundating a town. The muddy soil left a covering up to 30 feet deep that continues to grow, forcing 400 families from their homes. — BBC

Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners have joined a hunger strike led by Marwan Barghouti, an influential member of Fatah jailed by Israel in relation to a number of murders. — The Guardian 

WHAT WE’RE READING

Turkey is sliding into dictatorship (The Economist): “The state is entitled to protect its citizens, especially in the face of political violence. But Mr Erdogan has gone far beyond what is reasonable. Roughly 50,000 people have been arrested; 100,000 more have been sacked … Anyone Mr Erdogan sees as a threat is vulnerable …”

Devastation and a war that rages on: visiting the valley hit by the Moab attack (The Guardian): “The commandos looked weary, but they livened up when talking about Isis. On a tour of the area, they pointed to locks of curly beard and worn-out shoes which they said belonged to dead Isis fighters.”

Steve Bannon was doomed (New York Times): “He was fine so long as he was a whisperer. He was damned the moment he was cast as a puppeteer. That means there’s a puppet in the equation, and no politician is going to accept that designation, least of all one who stamps his name in gold on anything that stands still long enough to be stamped.”

North Korea: a potential train wreck in motion (Los Angeles Times): “Threats and bluster are part of a familiar and long-running game of brinksmanship between Washington and Pyongyang, but this time, it has been made more dangerous by two volatile new players — Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump.”

The crisis of attention theft — ads that steal your time for nothing in return (Wired): “Attention theft happens anywhere you find your time and attention taken without consent … there’s a big difference between leafing through a magazine, reading articles and advertising by choice, and being blasted at by a screen when you have no place to go.”

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