TURNBULL FROM LONDON, WITH LOVE

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has made the first full-length speech of his European trip in London, accepting the Disraeli Prize. In the speech, he pointedly said the Liberal Party, as established by Robert Menzies, was a progressive, not conservative, party — a speech that The Daily Telegraph calls an “intercontinental missile” directed at his predecessor, Tony Abbott.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May used the visit to say she hoped to forge greater ties, especially in trade, with Australia as the UK prepares to split from the European Union, The Australian Financial Review reports. May had promised to establish as many bilateral free trade agreements as possible after Brexit.

While in London, Turnbull also visited Scotland Yard and Borough Market, the site of last month’s terrorist attack in London. The West Australian reports that the visit nearly brought Turnbull to tears as he met police officers who had tried to save Australian victim Sara Zelenak.

NEWSPOLL: SUPPORT FOR PLEBISCITE ON THE RISE

The Australian says its newest Newspoll shows a blow to MPs hoping for a free vote on marriage equality before the end of the year. According to the poll, more voters now want a plebiscite rather than allowing politicians to decide on the matter. It shows 46% of voters prefer a plebiscite, 39% want politicians to decide the outcome and 15% are undecided. It’s a fall in support compared to September, when 48% of voters wanted politicians to decide and 39% wanted a plebiscite.

SPECIAL FORCES AFGHAN KILLINGS INVESTIGATED

The ABC’s Dan Oakes and Sam Clark have obtained hundreds of secret Defence papers describing the clandestine operations of Australia’s elite special forces in southern Afghanistan, including the killing of unarmed men and children. The documents are mostly reports on at least 10 incidents between 2009 and 2013 — some about the killing of insurgents, but also of unarmed men and children.

The documents reportedly show a growing unease about the culture of Australia’s special forces working in southern Afghanistan.

The release follows revelations yesterday, also from the ABC, that the Inspector General of the Australian Defence Force was investigating the deaths of a man and his six-year-old child in a raid on a house in September 2013, and the death of a detainee who was alone with an Australian soldier.

AMBER HARRISON’S REVENGE CAMPAIGN

Amber Harrison’s case was back in court yesterday, but she did not appear as Seven’s lawyer Andrew Bell submitted damaging emails from Harrison, which he said showed she was vindictive. Harrison had been fighting a suppression order stopping her talking about her affair with Seven CEO Tim Worner, but she announced on Friday she wouldn’t fight the order any longer. According to Bell, Harrison had boasted about using her contacts to plant stories about a Nova executive in a “revenge campaign that stopped a city”, The Australian Financial Review reports. Harrison did not appear yesterday, and while she has said she will accept the suppression order, Seven is seeking full costs, which she is not consenting to. The case will be back in the NSW Supreme Court today, and Harrison is expected to appear by phone.

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

Sydney: The case between Amber Harrison and Seven West media continues. Harrison is expected to appear by phone (see above).

Canberra: Federal Science Minister Arthur Sinodinos will sign a memorandum of understanding with the European Southern Observatory.

London: The UK’s Independent Inquiry in Child Sexual Abuse starts a second hearing into British child migrants who were sexually abused after being sent into the care of church and charity groups in Commonwealth countries including Australia.

THE COMMENTARIAT

Recognition of our First Peoples is now closer than ever — Mark Leibler (The Age): “The clearest message we took from our broader program of consultations was that the wider community will not endorse a referendum proposal that isn’t acceptable to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

War games could inflame what they aim to prevent: conflict with China — Stuart Rollo (Guardian Australia): “The reason why most other Australian leaders view preparation for war with our largest trading partner as an indispensable pillar of Australian foreign policy lies in Australia’s unique history of strategic dependence upon our more powerful Anglo-Saxon cousins, and in the foundations of our national psyche.”

Tim Soutphommasane has an idea to cure our country of whiteness — Nick Cater (The Australian $): “Criticising the commissioner is a delicate business, since denying the need to combat racism is apparently a form of racism itself.”

THE WORLD

Yemen’s civil war has caused a major outbreak of cholera, with more than 300,000 cases recorded in just 10 weeks and more than 1700 deaths linked to the rapid spread of the disease. The humanitarian situation in Yemen has deteriorated badly since a mostly Shia insurgency became a proxy war, with heavy intervention from Saudi Arabia, and pockets of territory falling to Islamic State and al-Qaeda affiliates. — BBC

The US is working on a resolution to put before the UN’s Security Council that would escalate sanctions against North Korea. After North Korea tested a new long-range missile that could reach as far as Alaska, the US is now working to convince China and other members that new sanctions would be productive and could bring a resolution to a vote within weeks. — Reuters

British Prime Minister Theresa May has been forced to suspend one her party’s MPs after she was recorded using the N-word at a function held at the East India Club. MP Anne Marie Morris quickly apologised for using a phrase that included the word but drew condemnation from across the political spectrum. May was not immediately aware of the remarks — she was busy meeting with Malcolm Turnbull. — The Guardian

WHAT WE’RE READING

The political life is no life at all (Meanjin): “While good people continue to put their heads down and do their best to make a positive contribution to democracy, the environment parliamentarians work in is a pressure cooker, the tone of national affairs is reflexively hostile, trolling and takedowns set the tone of the day, and protagonists are being rewarded for their efficiency at treachery rather than the substance of their contributions.”

Attack, attack, attack (New York Magazine): “Bannon, too, had a healthy self-regard. On his office wall hung an oil painting of Bannon dressed as Napoleon in his study at the Tuileries, done in the style of Jacques-Louis David’s famous neoclassical painting — a gift from Nigel Farage.”

Tough road ahead, even as IS grip on Mosul and Raqqa falters (Reuters): “The battlefield advances are a potentially fatal blow to Islamic State’s self-proclaimed “caliphate,” but also bring fresh challenges and risks, according to Western diplomats and U.S. officials. The key question, they said, is whether U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been leery of foreign assistance and “nation building,” and allies in Europe and the Middle East lead a long-term campaign of physical and political reconstruction.”

Why cruise ships have a sexual-assault problem (Quartz): “Cruise ships are frequently referred to as ‘floating cities,’ with their passengers having access to everything from movie theaters to comedy clubs and on-board parades. And just like cities, cruise ships have crime. Kidnappings or homicides are rare, but vacationers at sea are at risk of some serious offenses: most notably sexual assault.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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