SHOOTOUT IN BRIGHTON

A gunman shot dead by Victoria Police overnight in the Melbourne suburb of Brighton was believed to be known by counter-terrorism police but was considered low risk. He was on parole at the time of the shooting, and is alleged to have made a call to the Channel 7 newsroom stating “this is for IS” and “this is for “Al-Qaeda”, according to the Herald Sun. The man involved was holding a woman hostage, and another man was found dead. Three police were injured in a shootout with the gunman.

PM CALLS FOR ENCRYPTION CRACKDOWN

Following the attacks in London on the weekend, an Australian woman is still missing, amid fears she was in the London Bridge area at the time of the attack. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull — who is a fan of using encryption apps himself — has called on companies like WhatsApp to provide access to encrypted communications to law enforcement agencies, and has joined UK Prime Minister Theresa May in calling for social media companies such as Facebook to crack down on terrorists using their services. Last week the PM met with local social media executives and the heads of Australia’s telecommunications companies for a cyber security roundtable. The Australian also reports that the Turnbull government has settled on a new national security portfolio modelled after the UK version, rather than the often suggested US Department of Homeland Security.

At the Council of Australian Governments meeting on Friday, the PM is also trying to get the state premiers on board with security upgrades to stadiums around Australia. In the Coalition partyroom last week, the PM mentioned the need for upgrades to these public areas — such as bollards to prevent cars from getting into pedestrian areas.

QUE QATAR, QATAR

The nation of Qatar has been thrown into turmoil after Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and Bahrain simultaneously turned on their ally. Usually a member of the Sunni-majority coalition of states that counter-balances Iran, Qatar’s erstwhile allies are reportedly furious over its alleged support for terrorism, particularly for the waning Muslim Brotherhood group. Once a close follower of Saudi Arabia, the small country has recently sought a more independent foreign policy.

The diplomatic freeze could be a disaster for Qatar, which is now blocked from using the airspace of several of its neighbours and relies heavily on Saudi Arabia for food imports, now blocked. It’s also a nightmare for the US. President Donald Trump recently visited Saudi Arabia and lavished praise on the country, while Qatar hosts a key US military base. — Reuters

ASIO WARNS ON DONATIONS

Australia’s top spy agency warned Australian political parties from taking donations from two Chinese businessmen — Huang Xiangmo and Chau Chak Wing — because of their alleged links to the Chinese Communist Party, Fairfax Media and the ABC reports. The two men and their associates are reported to have made $6.7 million in donations in Australia, including $1 million to Labor and the Coalition after the parties were warned by ASIO. Labor Senator Sam Dastyari has also defended his repeated calls to Immigration to help Huang’s citizenship application, saying he was helping a constituent. Former Trade Minister Andrew Robb is also reportedly receiving $880,000 per year in his part-time consulting job with Communist Party-linked billionaire Ye Cheng.

ALP BACKS LOW EMISSIONS TARGET

The Australian Financial Review reports that Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has signalled that Labor could support a low emissions target — something that would allow subsidies to go to “clean coal” as well as renewable energy — if it is recommended by the Finkel report out on Friday. Labor wants an emissions intensity scheme, but the Coalition is completely opposed. Labor’s shadow energy minister Mark Butler, however, has suggested that a LET would be the third-best option behind carbon pricing and emissions intensity schemes. The Business Council of Australia also backs a LETThe Australian reports.

Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg has reportedly also been hitting the phones with the right wing rump of the Liberals such as Eric Abetz and Andrew Hastie urging calm over the climate change review and assuring them of the need to stay in the Paris agreement after US President Donald Trump announced the US would withdraw from the agreement.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Disgraced former US General and CIA director David Petraeus to speak at a $10,000 per-table fundraiser for the Liberals later this month.

Sunday penalty rate cut to be phased in by 2020, angering both unions and retailers. 

The Victorian Liberals are considering suing its biggest funding source, the Cormack Foundation, for withholding funding.

Catholic schools defend their own funding model, and fight against the government’s proposed changes.

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Sydney: Cities minister Paul Fletcher and his assistant minister Angus Taylor in Western Sydney for a tourism forum.

Sydney: Day two in disgraced former Labor state minister Eddie Obeid‘s appeal hearing.

Sydney: RBA board meeting and interest rates decision.

Melbourne: Fair Work Commission hands down annual minimum wage decision.

Melbourne: Rebel Wilson defamation trial continues.

Hobart: Tasmanian government budget estimates hearings.

THE COMMENTARIAT

We should follow Met’s lead on rapid response — Paul Maley (The Australian $): “By all means give the military the lead in responding to complex attacks such as sieges or hijackings, but the first priority should be to give local police the training and firepower they need to respond to the rudimentary terrorism they are most likely to confront. What’s more, they need it now.”

Housing affordability package gives voters what they want but not what they need — John Daley and Brendan Coates (The Age): “The fact is that foreigners don’t own much of our housing — perhaps 2 per cent of the value of the residential stock.”

London terror attack: open to Islamist delusions — Greg Sheridan (The Australian $): “For the political discourse and broad culture in many Muslim societies — even notionally democratic societies such as Indonesia or Turkey, and among Western Muslims as well — includes what can only be described as myths and paranoid fantasies as a staple.”

Australia must prepare to counter terrorism before attacks — Jim Molan (Herald Sun $): “Does Australia need to be badly hit to learn what the UK is learning?”

TODAY IN TRUMP

Donald Trump will not prevent former FBI director James Comey from testifying before Congress later this week. The president is able to claim executive privileged in some cases, raising the prospect that Trump could have tried to shut down Comey’s testimony. But the White House said this will not happen, and experts have added the president would be on weak legal ground even if he tried.

Perhaps disappointed to let a potential controversy slide, Trump has taken to Twitter to attack London Mayor Sadiq Khan for the second day in a row.

THE WORLD

Two of the three men responsible for the London Bridge terror attack have been named. The first was Khuram Butt, a 27-year-old born in Pakistan. The second was Rachid Redouane, a 30-year-old thought to be Moroccan-Libyan. Redouane was not known to police, though there had been public complaints and an investigation into Butt previously. — BBC

WHAT WE’RE READING

 Donald Trump’s triumph of stupidity (Spiegel Online): “German Chancellor Angela Merkel was the last one to speak, according to the secret minutes taken last Friday afternoon in the luxurious conference hotel in the Sicilian town of Taormina — meeting notes that DER SPIEGEL has been given access to. Leaders of the world’s seven most powerful economies were gathered around the table and the issues under discussion were the global economy and sustainable development.”

How Arab countries’ decision to break ties with Qatar complicates things for the US (BuzzFeed): “Numerous Saudi and UAE attempts to rally the Muslim world against Iran over the years have faltered. Researchers and diplomats say the attempt to bludgeon Qatar into aligning its policies with the rest of the countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council could just as easily push it closer to the strategic orbit of Iran, Turkey, or Russia.”

Tom Price bought drug stocks. Then he pushed pharma’s agenda in Australia (ProPublica): “In Canberra, Price and another Republican, Rep. John Kline of Minnesota, pressured senior Australian trade officials to modify their position on the 12-year extension, according to a congressional aide who was on the trip. The Australians explained that they had no intention of changing their laws or rules in ways that could increase drug prices. Price and Kline continued pushing, according to the aide, asking for a side letter or other written guidance that the period would be extended in Australia even if it weren’t spelled out in the TPP itself.”

Drug deaths in America are rising faster than ever (New York Times): “Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.”

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Peter Fray
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