PYNE IN THE NECK
The revelation of a tape of senior frontbencher Christopher Pyne assuring a moderate Liberal Party audience that the Coalition was near to securing marriage equality has set off yet another round of backbiting and infighting, led as usual by Tony “No Sniping, No Undermining” Abbott. The ex-prime minister used his usual Monday 2GB radio slot to slam his former cabinet colleague, saying:
“Responses like that are among the reasons that the public turn off politicians — because we don’t tell them what we think. And it looks like one of our number has been caught out. My point is you have got to be fair dinkum with the Australian people and it looks like that has not been true of Christopher.”
In the recording, Pyne also says he’s always voted for Malcolm Turnbull in leadership ballots, which Abbott says is evidence of Pyne’s disloyalty during Abbott’s short term in office. For his part, Pyne says the comments were blown out of proportion, and that it’s “no secret” that he has long been a supporter of marriage equality and the Prime Minister. On Q&A last night Pyne said what he meant by the comments was a commitment to hold a plebiscite on the issue, which is Coalition policy, but in the Fairfax papers this morning James Massola reveals WA Senator Dean Smith and NSW lower house MP Trent Zimmerman have been working on a private members’ bill to present to federal Parliament in the hopes of securing a conscience vote on the matter and ending the impasse. Some Liberals are said to consider a conscience vote the only real solution, with modelling by The Australian showing up to 20 members could lose their seats at the next election if current polling is anything to go by.
WHEN THE CHIPS ARE DOWN
Nineteen current and former Crown employees, including three Australians, have pleaded guilty to gambling charges in China, as expected. Sixteen of the defendants were given fines, and 11 of these were sentenced to prison terms of between nine and 10 months. The sentences include time served, so all should be released within another few months. The combined fines come to $1.7 million, which Crown boss James Packer says the company will pay.
The Commonwealth Bank is believed to be about to to appoint insolvency specialist PPB Advisory as a receiver of Channel Ten. The revelation was made yesterday but not at the network’s first creditors’ meeting, during which creditors were told Ten expected to have a cash-flow loss of up to $50 million by the end of the year. Administrator Mark Korda of KordaMentha says the ailing network could yet be saved with recapitalisation. And Korda says billionaire shareholders Lachlan Murdoch, James Packer and Bruce Gordon will stump up the cash to keep the network afloat until a decision is reached.
And on Ten, yesterday’s front-page Australian story (which we told you about in Crikey Worm) about Ten boss David Gordon selling 88% of his shareholding before the company turns out to be 100% wrong: “The Australian acknowledges that Mr Gordon did not sell any shares in the company and in fact his shareholding increased in the period before the company was placed into administration.” As Crikey told you in yesterday’s Media Files, Oz media editor Darren Davidson failed to take into account the 10-for-one share consolidation.
WHAT’S ON TODAY
The Australian Bureau of Statistics will reveal the results of last year’s problem-plagued census. Australian Statistician David Kalisch will speak at a media conference in Canberra. Whether the information gleaned from that census is accurate is another question.
Melbourne: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will announce $1.42 billion for Victoria’s regional rail network.
Also in Melbourne, IBAC hearings will focus on South West TAFE, Bendigo Kangan Institute and V/Line.
Darwin: Hearings continue for the royal commission into children in detention in the NT, with WA Inspector of Custodial Services Neil Morgan and a US criminal justice policy expert to testify.
A ‘dangerously erratic’ Donald Trump doesn’t solve crises, he creates them — Peter Hartcher (Sydney Morning Herald): “Australia has to hope that it doesn’t confront any major crisis. America may not be any help, despite Mike Pence’s offer. On the basis of his presidency so far, Trump is more likely to be the cause of a crisis than its solution.”
Someone, somehow must end policy sore over same-sex marriage — David Crowe (The Australian $): “It might only take three Liberals to secure a majority in the lower house to pass marriage equality. Labor has 69 votes. Another four on the crossbench favour change. While Turnbull and his ministers will be bound by party policy, backbenchers are free to cross the floor.”
Bipartisan bank bashing makes South Australia’s tax difficult to defend — Jennifer Hewett (Australian Financial Review $): “But for all the mealy-mouthed criticisms about the South Australian budget move by federal ministers, it’s obvious Scott Morrison’s own surprise bank levy gave the Weatherill government much greater political leeway to play copy cat.”
TRAVEL BAN BACK?
The Court has agreed to hear the administration’s appeal after lower courts blocked Trump’s amended travel ban, which temporarily blocks entry to the US for citizens of six majority-Muslim countries. In the meantime, the court has partially reinstated the ban, but ruled that those with a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” are not subject to the executive order for now.
The court will hear the full case in October, but it could be moot by then as the travel ban is due to expire on September 27. Law nerds can read the full decision here.
Mosul, the largest city held by the Islamic State in Iraq, is expected to fall within days, as militants cling to an area of around two square kilometres. While a last-ditch wave of suicide bombings and street-to-street combat plays out, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has spoken with his American counterpart Rex Tillerson to discuss the need for a ceasefire across the border in Syria, where the two superpowers risk coming into open combat. — Reuters
New Zealand has overcome the United States to claim victory in the America’s Cup, taking the series 7-1. — BBC
WHAT WE’RE READING
The Supreme Court’s cert grant in the travel ban cases: a guide for the perplexed (Lawfare): “As Marty Lederman points out, the Court’s ruling is a ‘huge victory for the plaintiffs’ in the sense that the injunctions remain in place with respect to those connected somehow to people in the country and protect even those aliens not directly involved in these suits — as long as they have the requisite relationships with U.S. persons or entities. On the other hand, I see the ruling as a big blow for refugees, who by dint of their situation generally do not have the kind of nexus that is now required for them to enter the country.”
Trump’s lies (New York Times): “Many Americans have become accustomed to President Trump’s lies. But as regular as they have become, the country should not allow itself to become numb to them. So we have catalogued nearly every outright lie he has told publicly since taking the oath of office.”
Jeff Bezos’ lessons from Washington Post for news industry (CNBC): “Don’t look for a patron or expect charity … Bezos was adamant that the Post should be run as a profit-making business, and that news organizations shouldn’t hold out for rich patrons who are willing to lose money indefinitely.”
At 15 I was tortured in Assad’s prisons. I escaped, but thousands still suffer (The Guardian): “I am free, but I’ve been taken hostage by the cries of my fellow prisoners, the groans of their wounds, the screams of their torture, their secret prayers, their emaciated bodies and their deaths once they could bear life no more.”