JUDGING THE JUDGES

It’s the war of the exclusives this morning with The Australian reporting Victorian judges have come under fire for meting out light sentences for terror suspects, while The Age is reporting a new Victorian crackdown on those accused of terrorism offenses, including two weeks’ detention without charge and further incarceration for criminals who have served their sentences.

Simon Benson‘s “exclusive” in The Australian starts:

“Senior ministers including a member of Malcolm Turnbull’s cabinet have launched an extraordinary attack on the Victorian judiciary, claiming it was advocating lighter sentences for terrorists as part of ‘ideological experiments’.”

And in The Age, Josh Gordon and Michael Koziol begin:

“Suspected extremists as young as 14 could be arrested, detained and questioned for up to two weeks without charge under an Andrews government terror crackdown.”

At the heart of both stories is whether Victoria’s sentencing conventions for terror suspects is out of line with that of neighbouring New South Wales, which has much stricter laws. The Australian quotes Victorian Supreme Court Chief Justice Marilyn Warren, who on Friday told the ABC: “It’s as if the Murray River is an enormous gap in terms of sen­tencing.” But The Age‘s story makes it explicit Victoria is hoping its new laws will be based on those in NSW. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews discussed some of the proposed changes on Saturday.

CHINESE WHISPERS

In part three of its extraordinary series on China’s influence in Australian public life Fairfax guns Richard Baker, Nick McKenzie and Philip Dorling reveal Chinese businesswoman Helen Liu‘s connections to both the Australian Labor Party and “a company US prosecutors later claimed as a front for China’s military intelligence”. 

Labor isn’t the only party in the press today for Chinese connections. Outgoing federal Liberal Party president Richard Alston is linked to Chinese Communist Party “princeling” Qin Xiao through two companies, China Telecom and Amex Resources, but Alston dismissed the connections as a “coincidence”. 

HE SAID IT

“Rounding people up as might have happened during the Second World War … is not something that our government is going to be involved in.” That’s Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, who has finally found a civil liberty he’s not comfortable with throwing away in order to fight the War on Terror. 

Last week Pauline Hanson suggested the government consider “internment” of those suspected of plotting acts of terror, and on Sunday Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt told Sky’s Patricia Karvelas the idea might have merit as a “last resort”. 

Dutton does want to be able to overrule the Administrative Appeals Tribunal’s Australian citizenship decisions, and the government will introduce legislation to give the Immigration Minister that power this week. Top lawyers have called the move “totally unwarranted and draconian”.

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will make a national security statement to Parliament, including outlining the need for the Immigration Minister to be given the power to overturn AAT citizenship decisions, outlined above. “Our success as a multicultural society is built on strong foundations which include the confidence of the Australian people that their government, and it alone, determines who comes to Australia,” he will say, according to the Australian Financial Review.

Senator Derryn Hinch will relaunch his petition for a national public register of sex offenders.

Sydney: Channel Ten is expected to update the ASX today in the wake of the bombshell revelation on the weekend that billionaire shareholders Lachlan Murdoch, Bruce Gordon and James Packer would not guarantee a new $250 million loan to keep the company afloat. 

Former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark will address a University of Sydney conference of 400 international development leaders, including the chief executives for Oxfam Australia, WaterAid and Save the Children. 

A court will consider Pauline Hanson’s attempt to permanently gag former One Nation treasurer Ian Nelson from releasing any more secret recordings. 

Brisbane: Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt will hand down the state’s budget, its last before next year’s election. The budget is expected to include more funding for the health service and public housing.

Melbourne: A bail decision will be made for the last of the six men accused of being “tinnie terrorists”, involved an alleged plot to sail from Cape York to the southern Philippines and join Islamic State.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Malcolm Turnbull may be forced to call election after just two years of governing

Coal war threatens climate policy breakthrough

THE COMMENTARIAT

Households paying price for a decade of brinkmanship — David Crowe (The Australian $) “That’s right. Abbott’s own policy from 2015 was a carbon tax under his 2017 definition. Perhaps he should apologise to voters.”

To avoid another dead end, we need to know who’s driving this Recognition bus — Amy McQuire (Guardian Australia): “Given there is currently a suffocating political bipartisanship on this issue, one wonders what our black parliamentarians will back if the Coalition and ALP refuse to support the Uluru Statement, and instead continue their long-held support for a change to the preamble.”

A five-step plan for Theresa May’s salvation — Nick Clegg (Australian Financial Review $): “I have experienced my share of political ups and downs — leading the Liberal Democrat party to its largest vote tally ever in 2010, to my defenestration at the ballot box last Thursday — yet I cannot recall a decline as precipitate as that of Theresa May.”

‘It’s freaking hopeless’: why the Health Star Rating System has to go — Peter FitzSimons (Sydney Morning Herald): “You thought I was going to say terrorism? Uh, no. On Australian soil — which is to say the territory the Australian government can most easily control — our country has lost fewer people to terrorism since September 11 than we lose in a day to the ravages of obesity-related conditions.”

TODAY IN TRUMP

President Donald Trump’s travel ban has suffered yet another setback, with an appeals court in San Francisco finding the ban overstepped the authority handed to the president by Congress in regards to immigration and national security.

The altered travel ban — slightly different from the administration’s initial draft — has already been rejected by a separate appeals court for breaching a constitutional prohibition on the establishment of a government religion. The Trump administration indicated that decision would be challenged in the Supreme Court. — New York Times

THE WORLD

British Prime Minister Theresa May has faced her party room after a disastrous early election that cost the Conservatives their parliamentary majority. May apologised to MPs and assured them their coalition with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland would not force a retreat on gay rights in Britain. — The Guardian

Russia has had some of its largest anti-Putin protests since 2012, with thousands taking to the streets around the country and opposition figure Alexei Navalny among the hundreds arrested. Navalny is attempting to challenge Vladimir Putin in next year’s presidential election and has made corruption a key issue of his campaigning. — Reuters 

Norway is likely to become the first Scandinavian country to institute a face covering ban, with legislation proposing a ban on niqabs, burqas and other face coverings in educational facilities. — BBC

WHAT WE’RE READING

The Millennials are moving left (New Republic): “What’s motivating these young leftists? The evidence points to underlying economic factors, and suggests that these voters will have a lasting influence on the fundamental structure of Western economies.”

A joke in very poor taste (London Review of Books): “The DUP may be out of step with Britain’s political mainstream in many respects, but as far as security policy is concerned, it marches in tight formation with some very powerful interests. For those who value civil liberties in both Britain and Northern Ireland, that will pose a grave problem, however long the current arrangement at Westminster lasts.”

Boeing studies planes without pilots, plans experiments next year (Seattle Times): “Boeing is researching the possibility of commercial-passenger jets that will rely on artificial intelligence rather than pilots. Initial experimental flights, without passengers, are planned next year, with such systems taking over some of the pilot decisions.”

Saudi Arabia is destabilising the world (Boston Globe): “Saudi Arabia has used its wealth, much of which comes from the United States, to turn entire nations into hotbeds of radical Islam. Saudi Arabia’s success in reshaping Indonesia shows the importance of the global battle of ideas. They pour money and resources into promoting their world view.”

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Peter Fray
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