PYNE APOLOGISES

Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne has said sorry for his now-infamous Cherry Bar comments about marriage equality being closer than everyone thinks. Pyne told local constituents last night that he was sorry the whole issue was a distraction. Yes, a minister has been forced to apologise for saying that a law change that the overwhelming majority of Australians support might be happening sooner rather than later.

The German parliament is preparing to hold a free vote on marriage equality later this week, which — in other circumstances — might have pressured Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to allow a conscience vote here, but the PM emphatically ruled out even allowing a vote on a private members’ bill yesterday. That option would have been considered an “accidental” passing of marriage equality without the frontbench having to reneg on the plebiscite policy. If it were allowed to come up for a vote, a couple of backbench Liberal MPs could cross the floor and vote with Labor and some of the crossbench to pass the legislation in the House of Reps.

Even this could risk the PM’s leadership position. The West Australian reports that more right-wing conservatives within the party are “ropeable” about Pyne’s comments and are calling on the PM to demote him.

RHIANNON SUSPENDED

After sending out leaflets urging constituents to lobby MPs to vote against the Gonski 2.0 school funding legislation while the Greens were negotiating their position with the government, Greens Senator for New South Wales Lee Rhiannon “proved too much even for the Greens,” The Daily Telegraph reported. Fairfax reports today that after a four-hour disciplinary hearing in Melbourne yesterday, the Greens party room decided the senator would be excluded from party room discussions and decisions on contentious government legislation. It’s a time-out on having a say on policy that might be controversial. Rhiannon can still attend some party room meetings, and she hasn’t been banned permanently. 

Her suspension will last until the NSW branch of the Greens “end the practice of NSW MPs being bound to vote against the decision of the Australian Greens party room”.

PAYNE BAN EXPECTED

Melbourne Cup winning jockey Michelle Payne will face a Racing Victoria hearing this morning after testing positive to a banned substance. It has been reported that Payne was believed to have taken Neuroform — a dietary capsule that suppresses appetite. The Daily Telegraph suggests that Payne could be banned from racing for as long as two months based on recent rulings on similar cases.

AUSTRALIA’S WORLD CUP BID PROBE

Swiss authorities are investigating multimillion-dollar payments made using Australian taxpayer funds to two lobbyists hired by Football Federation Australia to assist Australia’s failed bid for the 2022 World Cup, Fairfax reports.  A report on the 2018 and 2022 bids by FIFA’s chief investigator reportedly states that there is “strong evidence” FFA made “improper payments” to influence the vote of a FIFA official. The report doesn’t lay blame at any of the people running FFA, but it does raise questions over their oversight of the World Cup bid. FFA has said that during the bid, it routinely reported back to government and that its bid was reviewed by external auditors.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Labor to get rid of infrastructure financing organisation.

ScoMo threatens GST distribution for states that block gas exploration.

ANZ chief describes SA’s new bank levy as “immoral and illogical”

Pauline Hanson says new Australia Post CEO’s $1.3m pay is still too high. 

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Darwin:  Former NT Children and Families Minister John Elferink expected to give evidence at the NT Royal Commission into the NT juvenile justice system.

Sydney: Former prime minister Tony Abbott will continue the Sniping and Undermining Tour 2017,  addressing a Centre of Independent Studies event in Sydney today, where it is expected he will say his greatest regret about his time as PM was that he didn’t buy nuclear submarines.

Sydney: MasterChef judge George Calombaris mentioned in court today over his assault charge for an incident at the A-League grand final.

THE COMMENTARIAT

Modern Liberals are rotten to their core beliefs — Greg Sheridan (The Australian $): “Simon Birmingham has shown himself to be a politically incompetent Education Minister, whose efforts to get a nod of approval from the Coalition’s most determined critics in the ABC and the Fairfax press have come at the expense of plain dealing and the government’s own relationship with the critically important Catholic education sector, of which he seems to have no understanding, nor the remotest sympathy.”

Abbott, on a mission to destroy, is stepping up his stalking of Turnbull — Michelle Grattan (The Conversation): “Pyne’s foolishness has resulted in a conservative backlash against not just himself but the general power of the moderates. It has also further reduced the chance of same-sex marriage activists within the Liberal party achieving their end before the election.”

Fertile, educated Asians are saving our economy — David Uren (The Australian $): “Estimates by University of Melbourne demographer Peter McDonald show that in the absence of migration, the share of the population 65 and older would rise from 14 per cent now to 28 per cent by 2053.”

Time’s running out for Malcolm Turnbull — Andrew Bolt (The Daily Telegraph $): “The choice is not easy, but once it’s whittled down to Dutton or Abbott (with Abbott favourite), Turnbull is toast.”

THE WORLD

Italy could close its borders to boats carrying migrants and asylum seekers, after nearly 11,000 people arrived in just five days. The country is the main point of arrival for those leaving Africa but will now ask the EU to grant it permission to change its policy. — The Guardian

A ransomware attack that locked out computer users around the world is likely to have originated in Ukraine. The attack was less viral than the WannaCry attack that occurred in May, but still managed to infect computers around the world, putting a halt to the production of chocolate in Cadbury’s Tasmanian factory. Analysts have pointed to the fact a ransom of just $300 US was demanded, arguing the primary purpose of the hack was not financial gain. — Reuters

Former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin is suing The New York Times after an editorial by the newspaper linked her to the shooting of congresswoman Gabby Giffords. The Times issued a correction after the editorial was published, but Palin is pushing ahead, reportedly demanding $75,000 compensation. — BBC

WHAT WE’RE READING

Facebook’s secret censorship rules protect white men from hate speech but not black children (ProPublica): “The reason is that Facebook deletes curses, slurs, calls for violence and several other types of attacks only when they are directed at “protected categories”—based on race, sex, gender identity, religious affiliation, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation and serious disability/disease. It gives users broader latitude when they write about “subsets” of protected categories.”

The new forgotten people (The Monthly): “The term “the Forgotten People” seems never to have been used again. But after I published the text of the speech in full in 1992 at the beginning of my book Robert Menzies’ Forgotten People, and argued for its significance, it has lodged in the Liberal Party’s historical memory, as if it were always there.”

This is what foreign spies see when they read President Trump’s tweets (Washington Post): “At the CIA, I tracked and analyzed terrorists and other U.S. enemies, including North Korea. But we never had such a rich source of raw intelligence about a world leader, and we certainly never had the opportunity that our adversaries (and our allies) have now — to get a real-time glimpse of a major world leader’s preoccupations, personality quirks and habits of mind.”

Rules of the game: Avid Reader and the hollow activism of the Men’s Rights movement (Overland): “MRAs lack the ability to build or destroy anything, because they solely exist to do two things: validate each other and make noise”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

Peter Fray

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