HE SAID IT
“Friends, we are in the winner’s circle, but we have to deliver a couple of things, and one of those we’ve got to deliver before too long is marriage equality in this country.” That’s government frontbencher Christopher Pyne at the after-party following the Liberal Council’s fundraising dinner on Friday, according to a secret tape made public by Andrew Bolt. He pointed out the ascendancy of the Liberal Party’s left faction as a reason why the deal could be done:
“Two years ago … Malcolm Turnbull was the communications minister and now he’s the Prime Minister. I would say that our fortunes are pretty good at the moment. And most of your senior cabinet ministers — George Brandis, Marise Payne, yours truly — quite a few of us are very senior ministers in a Turnbull government. Now there was a time when people said it wouldn’t happen, but George and I kept the faith. We voted for Malcolm Turnbull in every ballot he’s ever been in.”
Turnbull will be glad to have Pyne and Brandis’ support, but according to the latest Newspoll he’s still losing ground with the electorate, particularly in South Australia, where Labor is leading the Coalition 56-44. Everywhere else Labor is ahead 53-47.
GREENS’ RHIANNON BLUE
Tensions in the Greens are reaching boiling point, with all nine of Senator Lee Rhiannon‘s federal colleagues signing a letter to the national council accusing Rhiannon of breaking faith with the party during the Gonski 2.0 school funding negotiations. Greens MPs wrote they were “astounded” that Rhiannon had authorised a leaflet calling on Sydney residents to lobby the Greens to block the bill. The Greens ended up voting against the school funding changes, but the letter says Rhiannon’s intervention undermined negotiations with the Coalition during a delicate time. A Greens source told Fairfax’s Matthew Knott: “This is unprecedented. Lee has breached the faith of the party and the party room.” In the letter, Greens say they will “consider what further action should be taken”. Rhiannon remains defiant, writing on Facebook: “At all times my actions on education have been faithful to the Greens policy and process.”
THE NUMBER: $56 BILLION
That’s the value of the Great Barrier Reef, according to economists at Deloitte. After a six-month analysis, Deloitte Access Economics came up with that figure to reflect the reef’s economic, social and iconic brand value. The report noted the Great Barrier Reef generates 64,000 jobs in Australia and contributes $6.4 billion to the national economy. To put the $56 billion in perspective, the report says: “That’s more than 12 Sydney Opera Houses, or the cost of building Australia’s new submarines. It’s even more than four times the length of the Great Wall of China in $100 notes.” The reef is under threat from warming and acidifying oceans.
SOCCEROOS’ HOPES DASHED
The Socceroos came close to a fairytale upset of world No. 4 Chile but had to settle for a 1-1 draw, which will knock the Australian side out of the Confederations Cup in the group stages. It was Tim Cahill‘s 100th game representing his country.
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Shanghai: Nineteen staff and associates of Crown, including four Australians, will front court today for the first time to face charges related to promoting an illegal gambling operation in China. The Crown staff have been held in Chinese detention for the past nine months, but they were only charged with “gambling crimes” a few days ago. All are expected to plead guilty, and they are likely facing three years or less in Chinese prison. Shanghai-based criminal lawyer Si Weijiang told Michael Sainsbury of The Daily Telegraph: “The defendants will be convicted — 99% of the cases are convicted.”
Alice Springs: The StandUp2017 conference will finish up today. It marks 10 years since former prime minister John Howard‘s controversial Northern Territory intervention.
Loxton, South Australia: A private funeral will be held for London Bridge terror attack victim Kirsty Boden. Boden, a nurse, was murdered while trying to help those who had been injured in the attack. In London, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce laid a wreath for the victims of the London Bridge attack.
Sydney: Creditors of embattled network Channel Ten will meet for the first time today. There will doubtless be questions for Ten chairman David Gordon in the wake of a story by Darren Davidson revealing the chairman sold almost all his shares in the network before it was placed into voluntary administration. Creditors will vote on whether or not to keep administrators KordaMentha.
New South Wales police will hold a media conference today to provide details of a gun amnesty in the state, which will come into effect July 1.
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Authenticity for Liberals need not be at the cost of continuity — Jennifer Oriel (The Australian $): “Subtle jostling for the PM’s chair is under way. Morrison is campaigning as authentic. It’s a tactical coup but he will struggle to convince as the leader of an authentically Liberal campaign.”
Christopher Pyne drops Malcolm Turnbull’s plan for Liberals on same-sex marriage — Andrew Bolt (The Daily Telegraph $): “Turnbull has never ruled out a vote of politicians, and Pyne, his chief spear-thrower, gave every reason at the Cherry Bar to believe Turnbull will indeed break his promise — especially now his poll numbers are terminal and time on his leadership running out.”
Euthanasia by text? Michelle Carter case impacts more than just free speech — Philip Nitschke (The Age): “Just as suicide is lawful in Australia, being a bad person is not necessarily unlawful. Diaconis is correct. It is important not to conflate the law with morality, yet that is exactly what Judge Moniz has done.”
EXPLOSION IN PAKISTAN
A truck carrying thousands of gallons of fuel has exploded after falling onto its side, killing at least 150 people in Pakistan’s Punjab province. Hundreds of people had gathered around the crash site to collect petrol from the leaking vehicle, a highly valued commodity in the impoverished area. A spark of some kind then ignited the scene, causing a massive explosion and killings scores of people in an instant. — New York Times
Qatar is resisting a list of demands put forward by its neighbours, including that the state cut ties to Iran, closes a Turkish military base, and close the Al Jazeera television network. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, caught between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, has said the demands put forward would be “difficult to meet”. — BBC
Dozens of MPs in British Parliament have had their email accounts breached by a brute-force cyber attack. Officials were locked out of their email accounts as security and intelligence forces worked to limit the damage. Security services sources said the attack appeared to be state-sponsored. — The Guardian
For the second time in two days, Israel has fired on Syrian government forces after a stray rocket landed in the Golan Heights, the territory captured by Israel in 1967. Israel has largely stayed out of the conflict in Syria so far. — Reuters
WHAT WE’RE READING
Obama’s secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin’s election assault (Washington Post): “Obama also approved a previously undisclosed covert measure that authorized planting cyber weapons in Russia’s infrastructure, the digital equivalent of bombs that could be detonated if the United States found itself in an escalating exchange with Moscow. The project, which Obama approved in a covert-action finding, was still in its planning stages when Obama left office. It would be up to President Trump to decide whether to use the capability.”
Getting in and out (Harper’s): “This is always a risk in art. The solution remains as it has always been: Get out (of the gallery) or go deeper in (to the argument). Write a screed against it. Critique the hell out of it. Tear it to shreds in your review or paint another painting in response. But remove it? Destroy it? Instead I turned from the painting, not offended, not especially shocked or moved, not even terribly engaged by it, and walked with the children to the next room.”
Will the next great scientific discovery be made by amateurs? (Smithsonian): “Centuries ago, all scientists were citizen scientists, either funded by patrons or on their own. It was with the advent of the modern university system that the field started to require degrees … but the balance is again tipping toward including amateurs in the practice of science.”
Barry Humphries on the development of Australian slang (Times Literary Supplement): “The editors of the new Australian National Dictionary have magnificently recorded what must surely be the richest vernacular in the history of human utterance, and if you don’t believe me you can stick your head up a wombat’s freckle.”
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