DUTTON’S HOME RUN: ON THE CUSP OF NEW MEGA-DEPARTMENT

After years of speculation under different governments, it looks like Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will be the one to introduce a mega-department modeled after the UK’s Home Office, bringing together the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and Border Force under one umbrella. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is expected to be the big winner out of the shake-up, but it won’t happen without a fight when cabinet meets today. Fairfax’s David Wroe and James Massola report that Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Attorney-General George Brandis, Justice Minister Michael Keenan and Defence Minister Marise Payne are against the idea. 

“There is no place for set-and-forget. My focus as Prime Minister, I can assure you, is on keeping Australians safe,” the PM told reporters yesterday as he controversially announced changes to deployment protocols for the ADF in front of a group of masked soldiers.

REFERENDUM COUNCIL REPORT: INDIGENOUS VOICE IN PARLIAMENT

The council advising the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader on what question should be taken to the Australian people when it comes to recognition of Australia’s indigenous people has recommended the establishment of a “Voice to Parliament” — a national indigenous representative body. The Referendum Council has made just one recommendation, that the representative body be inserted into Australia’s constitution and another “Declaration of Recognition” be drafted and legislated by all Australian parliaments, but not included in the constitution.

The report comes after 250 indigenous leaders met at Uluru in May, and it says the representative body would “place into the supreme law of our Commonwealth, a Voice that will enable the First Peoples of Australia to speak to the Parliament and to the nation about the laws and policies that concern them”.

“The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders we consulted made it clear they were not interested in the other options on offer,” Referendum Council co-chair Mark Leibler said.

COP WHO KILLED AUSTRALIAN NAMED

The Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed Australian Justine Damond has been named as Mohamed Noor, who had little more than two years’ experience in the force. Damond, a 40-year-old life coach living in the US with her fiance, was shot after she called 911 to report an assault outside her house. It is unclear why she was shot, and police body cameras and dashboard cameras were not in operation at the time of the shooting. No weapon was found at the scene, and Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges wrote on Facebook: “I am heartsick and deeply disturbed by what happened last night.”

AMBER HARRISON GOES DOWN FIGHTING

Former Seven employee Amber Harrison has been ordered to pay the legal costs of Seven West Media after losing her case against the network, a move which she claims will bankrupt her. Justice John Sackar said: “I am not disposed to factor in the defendant’s financial position in my determination of costs”. He also commented on the way the three-year saga has played out, saying the court case had been “engulfed in a vitriolic atmosphere” from the start.

Harrison said yesterday the legal system was used to by bigger players to exhaust smaller players: “This strategy against an employee, an individual, racks up ridiculous legal bills unnecessarily.”

SHORTEN TO END CLIMATE ‘BRAWLING’

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will tell a conference today that Labor will support legislation that comes from the Finkel Review, saying the party will find the “sensible centre” with the government.

“I want Labor involved in the policy design and the drafting process, because I believe that’s how we can guarantee the best possible outcome – for jobs and investment and for Australian families and businesses,” The Guardian reports Shorten will say.

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra: Cabinet meets today, and it is reported that the creation of a new “Home Office-style mega-department” is on the agenda. With reports that senior ministers are both lining up for and against the plan, sparks are set to fly.

Sydney: Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will tell the Clean Energy Summit the Labor Party will help to pass legislation from the Finkel Review.

Perth: The manslaughter trial for the man accused of killing Kalgoorlie teenager Elijah Doughty by running him down with his ute, sparking a riot, continues today. Yesterday the court heard the man claimed Doughty veered in front of his car on the motorbike he was riding.

Sydney: The minutes of the RBA board’s July meeting will be released.

Broome: Hearings continue into 13 youth suicides in Aboriginal communities in the Kimberley between November 2012 and March last year.

Canberra: Governor-General Peter Cosgrove will invest former New Zealand prime minister John Key as an honorary Companion in the Order of Australia.

THE COMMENTARIAT

Indigenous voice to parliament: a unifying idea — Mark Leibler (The Australian $): “No doubt there will be people — non-indigenous and indigenous — who will say our recommendation for a representative voice is similarly fraught — impossible to pull off; a back-to-the-future re-prosecution of past failures; and/or unwinnable at a referendum. These positions come from a place of cynicism and mean-spiritedness, and they underestimate the good sense and goodwill of the Australian people.”

Calling in the army no magic bullet to terrorism threat — Dr John Coyne (The Age): “Putting aside the ADF’s inconvenient geographic and logistical reality, counter-terrorism first response remains a legal responsibility of the states and territories. Even with these proposed changes, general duties police officers will continue to be the ones responding to, and resolving, terrorist attacks in Australia.”

Super security ministry idea has been tried and rejected — Greg Sheridan (The Australian $): “A super security ministry would contribute nothing positive and it would diminish the effectiveness of the agencies involved by reducing contestability of ­advice, and reducing effective cabinet minister-level scrutiny.”

Time for the Liberal Party to get over Robert Menzies and focus on today — Shaun Carney (Herald Sun $): “Modern society is getting away from too many of today’s political players.”

THE WORLD

US security officials believe the United Arab Emirates was behind a hacking incident that deepened the deterioration of Qatar’s relationship with other regional powers. Citing unnamed officials, The Washington Post reports that false statements posted to official news and social media sites attributed to Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani were the result of hacking overseen by the UAE. The UAE’s ambassador to Washington has denied the claim. — Washington Post 

The Venezuelan opposition is calling for a national strike after holding a massive mock-referendum. Some 7.6 million opposition supporters cast a vote, with close to 100% registering their opposition to the government’s plan for a new Constitutional Assembly. Nicolas Maduro‘s socialist government has dismissed the vote, saying children, Americans, and even Australians took part. — Reuters

Russia has demanded the US allow representatives to return to two diplomatic compounds seized after Russian officials were expelled from the US in December 2016 over allegations of meddling in the US election. — BBC

WHAT WE’RE READING

Elon Musk: “There will not be a steering wheel” in 20 years (Axios): “Within 10 years nearly all new cars made in the U.S. will be autonomous, and half of those will be fully electric vehicles … within 20 years, he said driving a car will be like having a horse (i.e. rare and totally optional). ‘There will not be a steering wheel.'”

Inside Erdogan’s prisons (New York Times): “There are so many writers, journalists and other professionals in Turkish prisons that 38,000 inmates convicted of fraud, rape, theft, looting and extortion were released before finishing their sentences to make room … Inmates have the right to 10 books a week, but they get a book a month. I heard an inmate being told, “The book is not available, but the author is here if you are interested.'”

The lawyer, the addict (New York Times): “The door was ajar. A few crumpled and bloodied tissues were scattered on the bedsheets. And then I turned the corner and saw him, lying on the floor between the bathroom and the bedroom. His head rested on a flattened cardboard box.”

Inside the pied piper of R&B’s ‘cult’ (BuzzFeed): “Kelly confiscates the women’s cell phones, they said, so they cannot contact their friends and family; he gives them new phones that they are only allowed to use to contact him or others with his permission. Kelly films his sexual activities, McGee and Jones said, and shows the videos to men in his circle.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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