FOR WHOM THE PELL TOLLS

Victoria Police yesterday announced Cardinal George Pell had been charged with historical sex offences, with multiple allegations. He is due to face the Melbourne Magistrates Court on July 18. 

Pell has said he will return to Australia to fight the charges, saying in a press conference yesterday that the charges were false and blaming a media campaign against him.

“There have been leaks to the media, relentless character assassination and, for more than a month, claims that a decision on laying charges is ‘imminent’,” he said. “I am looking forward finally to having my day in court.”

A question remains about how Pell will get back to Australia, given his claimed health issues. It has been suggested he could get an expensive medivac private jet, or try to get to Australia by boat. The Sydney Archdiocese won’t be paying his legal bills, but it will give him accommodation when Pell returns to Australia. Either way, reports suggest it might be a one-way trip, with sources suggesting to The Daily Telegraph it is unlikely Pell will return to Rome even if he is cleared of all charges.

The news has spread far beyond Australia, as Pell is the third most senior Catholic in the Vatican. Due to the high-profile nature of the case, the media, along with the rest of the public, have been warned to be careful about what they say on it. Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions has warned that now charges have been filed, sub judice conditions related to prejudicial publicity and contempt of court now apply. Melbourne University Press has also withdrawn from sale Louise Milligan‘s book on Pell, Cardinal, from sale in Victoria.

“The charging of one of the church’s most senior members with sexual abuse is a momentous day, but also a solemn one,” Gold Walkley Award winning Fairfax journalist Joanne McCarthy — whose reporting sparked the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse — on the charges against Pell

CYBER WARFARE

Australia’s peak cybersecurity agency, the Australian Signals Directorate, will be given powers to launch so-called “cyber warfare” to bring down overseas networks targeting Australians, The Australian reports, exclusively. The ABC has also claimed the story as an exclusive, stating there will be 100 “keyboard warriors” in the unit to start off with, but there are plans to expand it up to 900. A new warrant system will be established to enable the defence minister to approve operations undertaken by the unit.

The Australian suggests that the plan is not a direct response to either the recent WannaCry or Petya ransomware attacks, but a spate of incidents of foreign criminals targeting Australian networks over the past year or so.

ABBOTT GOES NUCLEAR

In a day where he also praised Pell as “a fine man“, former prime minister Tony Abbott has used a speech at the Centre of Independent Studies to suggest the government should consider using nuclear-powered submarines. The former leader’s comments were almost immediately rejected by Defence Minister and Liberal moderate Marise Payne, who said that the $50 billion contract with DCNS for 12 submarines — signed by the Turnbull government — had followed the competitive tender process established during the Abbott government.

LIBERALS FAIL AT MIMICKING GETUP 

GetUp national director Paul Oosting has told an Australian Financial Review conference that the ongoing attempt by the Liberals to try to make a conservative version of GetUp has become a source of amusement within the activist organisation. The launch of the Labor Herald-like Fair Go publication at the Liberal Federal Council on the weekend just exemplified the problem, he said, because it showed that they were more interested in talking at the community rather than actively engaging with and being empowered by the community.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Energy prices are about to go up by a lot.

The banks are about to launch ad campaign against South Australia’s $370 million bank levy.

The Australian Taxation Office is targeting 60,000 Uber drivers over failure to collect GST.

Amber Harrison settles with her law firm over fees in Seven dispute.

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra: The final referendum report on indigenous recognition will be handed to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten today. It is expected the report will push for an advisory body to Parliament.

Perth: Treasurer Scott Morrison to speak at a WA Chamber of Commerce breakfast event.

Brisbane: A state funeral for former Labor federal minister Con Sciacca will be held this morning at St Stephen’s Cathederal.

THE COMMENTARIAT

We are witnessing the cowardice at the heart of Abbott’s campaign — David Crowe (The Australian $): “The poison within the Liberal Party has reached such toxic levels there may be no cure. “It is brutality writ large,” one Liberal MP says of Abbott’s tactics. Some MPs believe this will continue until Abbott forces a challenge to replace Turnbull.”

A ‘momentous day’ as George Pell now has a case to answer — Joanne McCarthy (The Age): “Those of us who were there will never forget seeing Pell leave the witness box after reading an apology to John Ellis, then pass within a metre or so of Ellis without pause, without blinking or acknowledging him at all.”

George Pell case: new battle plan needed as due process kicks in — Patrick Carlyon (The Australian $): “From Ballarat, this point of fact unpicks any easy telling of Pell’s life. Ballarat was the cesspit of priestly pedophilia. Pell lived for a time with Gerald Ridsdale, the former priest who exploited his trusted position to be one of the most shameless abusers of children in modern history. Pell has always maintained that he did not know”

TODAY IN TRUMP

Donald Trump has enjoyed another day of controversy relating to his Twitter feed, after he attacked co-hosts of MSNBC’s morning news program Morning JoeMika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough. Across two tweets, Trump accused the pair of speaking badly of him, then said: “low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came…..to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!”

Trump was once a frequent guest on the show, and Scarborough has been criticised for being too close to Trump. No longer.

THE WORLD

Iraqi forces have recaptured the Grand al-Nuri Mosque at the heart of Mosul, close to three years after Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a global caliphate from the site. While around 350 IS fighters remain in Mosul, a spokesperson for the Iraqi military told media “their fictitious state has fallen”. — Reuters

British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has sacked three frontbenchers after they supported a rogue amendment by fellow Labour MP Chuka Umunna. Umunna’s proposed amendment to the Queen’s Speech called for Britain to stay in the single market after Brexit, something Corbyn has ruled out. — BBC

WHAT WE’RE READING

In the digital age, The New York Times treads an increasingly difficult path between news and advertising (Columbia Journalism Review): “The Times is a unique beast, in journalism and within its own midtown Manhattan tower, and a bevy of new initiatives being rolled out to buoy the company’s bottom line worry journalists at a paper that has long maintained a firm separation between its news and  business operations. Continuing job cuts in the newsroom, even as the business side of the paper continues to grow, have made those tensions even more acute.”

Teddy Roosevelt wouldn’t understand EU’s antitrust fine against google (The New Yorker): “Google’s case shows that the antitrust battle is much more confusing in a digital world. How am I harmed when one service that charges me nothing offers me ratings written (for free) by other users, but doesn’t show me the ratings provided by an entirely different free service?”

What happens when the whole world becomes selfish (Washington Post): “When the leader of the global system proclaims that he won’t be bound by foreign restraints, the spirit becomes infectious. Call the global zeitgeist what you will: The new realism. Eyes on the prize. Winning isn’t the most important thing, it’s the only thing.”

Gun sales are plummeting and Trump wants to help (The Nation): “The gun industry has been experiencing a dramatic decline in sales—which have declined 10 percent in the six months since Trump was elected compared with the same period last year—so this culture of fear is vital to gin up demand for guns as necessary self-defense accessories, thereby creating a new generation of buyers, and to garner support for radical new legislation that will put “good guys with guns” virtually everywhere.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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