TAKE A LOOK IN THE MIRROR

Australia is becoming more diverse and less Christian, according to the 2016 census results, released yesterday. Despite the numerous problems plaguing the data collection, the Australian Bureau of Statistics stands by its data, which reveals just 50.7% of people in Australia have two Australian-born parents, down from 54% in 2011 and 57% in 2006. And immigrants from China, India, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia combined outnumber those born in England, New Zealand and mainland Europe combined, though England and New Zealand remain the top countries of origin, with China third. 

Australia is also far less Christian — and less religious in general — than it has ever been. For the first time those ticking the “no religion” box (26.9%) outnumbered Catholics (22.6%), with those without religion representing the plurality of Australia. All Christian faiths combined accounted for 51%, then plenty of daylight and Islam at 2.6% and Buddhism at 2.4%. 

PYNE-ING FOR NEWS

With a daunting six-week stretch ahead while Parliament is on winter recess, Christopher Pyne‘s indelicate — but not surprising — comments to a party of moderate Liberals on Friday night that marriage equality would become reality and that he supported Malcolm Turnbull continue to dominate the news cycle. One Liberal source told the ABC there was a “jungle drum” to drop Pyne from his position as Leader of the House, and another Liberal MP told The Australian the issue of same-sex marriage could imperil Turnbull’s own position: “If anything occurs on gay marriage in the partyroom the next thing that will happen will be a spill motion — that day. And it doesn’t matter if it is endorsed by the PM or not.”

And the Defence Industry Minister is under fire from a second front, the Catholic education sector, after he told Sky News on Sunday the National Catholic Education Commission’s campaign against the Gonski 2.0 school funding package was “dishonest” and the Catholic Church were “not good managers” if they had been reliant on Gillard-era school funding. Of course, Pyne also called the Catholic education sector’s Gonski campaign “dishonest” in May, but this time his political opponents can smell blood in the water — and a very long news cycle before Parliament sits again. 

So who stands to gain from all this disunity? Former prime minister Tony Abbott happened to be giving a speech to the Institute of Public Affairs yesterday and hinted that this drama is not going away: “I’m in no hurry to leave public life because we need strong liberal conservative voices now, more than ever.” Abbott also told colleagues he would outlast Turnbull in politics and would pick up the pieces “when” Turnbull’s leadership collapsed, according to Sharri Markson in The Daily Telegraph.

HE SAID IT

“A new Labor government will restore the Sunday penalty rates of every single worker affected by this cut. And we will change the law — to protect the take-home pay of working Australians into the future.” That’s opposition leader Bill Shorten in a speech to the Australian Council of Trade Unions yesterday. Although Labor (and strange bedfellow George Christensen) attempted to block cuts to weekend penalty rates, this is the first time Labor has committed to reversing them. 

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Cairns: The National Indigenous Economic Development Forum kicks off today.

Darwin: Former NT corrections minister and children and families minister John Elferink, who was infamously and controversially interviewed in Four Corners‘ investigation into the Don Dale youth detention facility, will appear at the child protection royal commission. 

Canberra: Professor Peter Hoj, chairman of the Group of Eight universities, will address the National Press Club.

THE COMMENTARIAT

Suspension of standing orders could bring on gay marriage vote — Peta Credlin (The Australian $): “Under this scenario, assisted by the Leader of the House — who might, let’s say, give supporters a heads-up (even those from Labor) and keep opponents in the dark — a successful suspension vote would enable an immediate vote on same-sex marriage.”

Even the UN rejects the government’s stance on transgender married couples — Paula Gerber (Guardian Australia): “Although it is not widely known, the Australian government has been arguing on the international stage that the handful of same-sex couples in Australia who are married should be required to divorce.”

British law legend might have been on ministers’ side — Nick Xenophon (The Australian $): “In 1987, the Australian Law Reform Commission recommended the common law principles of contempt be abolished and replaced with a statutory code. In 2003 the NSW Law Reform Commission made similar recommendations. The time for robust debate that leads to reform is long overdue.”

Should Sydney and Melbourne have their own foreign policies? — Matt Wade (The Age): “After decades of openness to trade, investment and migration, the economies of Sydney and Melbourne are now deeply integrated with the global economy. But what if the political mood becomes more introspective and governments respond by erecting more barriers?”

THE WORLD

US defence officials have backed the White House, saying they have observed Syrian forces apparently preparing materials for a chemical weapons attack. Press secretary Sean Spicer had earlier warned that Syria would pay a “heavy price” for any chemical attack, though it was not clear what he was referring to. A Pentagon spokesperson has now said the US observed alleged preparations at Al Shayrat, the same base it bombed in April. Russian and Syrian officials rejected the allegation. — New York Times

Brazilian president Michel Temer has become the country’s first sitting leader to be charged with a crime, after being accused of corruption by the attorney-general. Temer, a conservative, rode to power after Dilma Rousseff was impeached last year. While he is insulated by a parliamentary majority, Temer’s approval rating has sunk to just 7%. — The Guardian

Silvio Berlusconi could be about to make a dramatic re-entry into the political limelight in Italy. The 80-year-old former prime minister’s Forza Italia party performed strongly at mayoral elections this weekend, potentially paving the way for Berlusconi to become a key player at next year’s national election. — Reuters

WHAT WE’RE READING

 How The Guardian lost America (BuzzFeed): “Guardian US became more preoccupied with logging datelines from along the trail — which is expensive and time-consuming — and matching the competition’s stories more than it did scoops, the coin of the realm for any outlet hoping to get attention in a crowded political media environment.”

The cloak of “fear” (Slate): “Regardless of the situation or the facts on the ground, if a police officer says he was afraid, a jury will take that as reasonable. This raises a question: Are juries giving police the benefit of the doubt — or are they saying, in all of these cases, that it’s reasonable to be afraid of black people?”

Australians idealise the ‘good bloke’. But he can be dangerous (The Guardian): “I pretty much forgot about the night, although a few times when I saw Shorten years later, we would reminisce and agree: that was some weird shit.”

Canada doesn’t know how to party (New York Times): “July 1 is Canada’s 150th anniversary, but nobody seems particularly eager to join the party. The muted attempts at celebration have so far produced either awkwardness or embarrassment … the principal excitement of our sesquicentennial so far has been the fury of national self-critique it has inspired.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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