HE SAID IT

“For them to cross the floor to try to ensure the Parliament does it [passes marriage equality], that is real breach of faith with the public.” Guess who? Maybe if we give you a little more it will become clear: “It’s obviously a dramatic loss of discipline inside the government and it’s a serious attack on the authority of the leadership.” That is, of course, former prime minister Tony “No Sniping” Abbott, sniping on 2GB yesterday. Malcolm Turnbull is said to be about to hold a secret ballot within the Coalition party room when Parliament resumes next week to get a sense of the numbers. Why the push from moderate Liberals to pass marriage equality now? It’s a matter of timing — as Crikey told you on Tuesday, long-time marriage equality supporter Liberal MP Warren Entsch will leave the country in mid-September to act as a UN observer for three months, and with the numbers so close, equality supporters need his vote. 

Conservative MPs are still pushing for a postal plebiscite on the matter, though as Josh Taylor wrote yesterday, the PM himself once wrote an op-ed stating postal plebiscites are anti-democratic and disenfranchise many. 

TERROR PLOT UPDATE

Abdul Merhi, one of the four men arrested in Saturday night’s terror raids, has been released without charge, saying he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Merhi’s brother Khaled Merhi as well as relatives Khaled Khayat and Mahmoud Khayat remain in custody. The Daily Telegraph reports today the initial terror plot was to plant a bomb in an unwitting passenger’s carry-on luggage, but this plan was abandoned because of weight limits on cabin baggage. 

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TURNS OUT WE DO NEED A WEATHERMAN

Australia’s dearth of climate scientists is seriously impeding our ability to predict weather and climate events, according to a review by the Australian Academy of Science. “We currently do not know whether rainfall evaporation is going to increase or decrease over [the Murray-Darling Basin], and this has obviously large implications for sourcing our food and profitability in those regions,” said Professor Trevor McDougall, who led the review for the academy. The academy found Australia’s climate modelling had advanced as far as it could without more resources and an additional 77 new positions were needed, 27 of them urgently this year. It suggested these positions be in the CSIRO, Bureau of Meteorology or even a new climate research agency. 

THE NUMBER: $417.6 MILLION

That’s the amount netted by fraudsters using stolen credit card numbers last year, more than double the amount in 2011. Experts are blaming the rise of online shopping.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Andrew Denton to undergo heart surgery, pulls out of euthanasia campaign in Victoria

Turnbull Government-appointed liquidators file an injunction to freeze Clive Palmer’s assets

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Fitzroy Crossing: The Kimberley Aboriginal youth suicide inquest continues. Yesterday, the first day of hearings in Fitzroy Crossing, WA government solicitor Caroline Thatcher got into a heated back-and-forth with senior community leader Emily Carter about whether those in remote communities should expect the same level of services as those in more built-up areas. The discussion was somewhat derailed from the purpose of the inquiry, which is into the suicide deaths of 13 young people, five of them under 13 years old, in remote WA.

Melbourne: Kathleen Clubb, a mother of 13, who is accused of harassing abortion clinic patients, will front court. As the first person charged under the new “safe zone” laws, Clubb has become a cause celebre for the anti-choice right wing, with the Human Rights Law Alliance, a front for the Australian Christian Lobby, telling Crikey last year it would fund her defence. 

Melbourne: The Melbourne International Film Festival kicks off today.

Perth: Malcolm Turnbull will appear with Premier Mark McGowan at a freeway extension in Perth’s north. Place your bets now on how many questions will be about the freeway and how many will be about marriage equality. 

Perth: Minister for Women Michaelia Cash will address a breakfast held by the Committee for Economic Development about the economic impacts of domestic violence. 

Sydney: The Independent Commission Against Corruption will release its investigative report into Operation Credo to NSW Parliament. Operation Credo is the investigation into Australian Water Holdings, which lobbied Labor and Liberal governments for a $1 billion water contract in NSW. Senator Arthur Sinodinos, who was AWH’s chairman at the time, was ICAC’s star witness — though his memory failed him more than 40 times during questioning.

Sydney: A judge is set to rule of the fate of a blogger who released names of other women alleged to have had affairs with Seven CEO Tim Worner. The women’s lawyer has said the blogger should be jailed.

Canberra: Former deputy director of the National Security Agency Chris Inglis will address the National Press Club on the topic “What We (at the NSA) Learned from Snowden: The New Cyber Threat Environment, Politics and Civil Liberties”.

THE COMMENTARIAT

Turnbull stuck in terrain of rocks and hard places over SSM — Niki Savva (The Australian $): “According to people familiar with his mood and the intensity of his feelings on this issue, Nationals backbencher Andrew Broad remains determined to follow through with a threat made some time ago to withdraw his support for the government if it adopted a free vote [on same-sex marriage].”

Could marriage showdown bring down Malcolm Turnbull’s government? — Mark Kenny (Sydney Morning Herald): “Would the loss of a vote on marriage reform in chamber where the government is formed amount to a loss of confidence? According to Practice, the answer is “Yes”. And “No”.”

Surely it is now time to abolish the archaic traps of dual citizenship — Kevin Andrews (The Australian $): “A parliamentary committee I chaired in 1997 examined section 44 of the Australian Constitution concerning the qualification of members of parliament and recommended that it be changed.”

TODAY IN TRUMP

The Trump administration is moving on a number of policy fronts today. President Donald Trump has endorsed a bill in Congress that would halve the number of immigrants permitted to come to the United States. The Justice Department, meanwhile, is preparing to sue colleges that have affirmative action policies.

While these are proposals and plans, Trump also signed his first major piece of legislation today: a bill brought to his desk courtesy of a bipartisan push in Congress. The law places Russia under new sanctions and gives Congress the power to veto any future changes Trump might want to make to said sanctions.

THE WORLD

A team of US and Korean scientists has “edited” a human embryo to remove DNA that would cause a disorder, the first time such an operation has been successfully performed. The experiment potentially paves the way for doctors to alter the genes of a baby before it is born, eradicating inherited predisposition to diseases and disorders. — BBC

The company that provided voting machines for Venezuela’s controversial “Constituent Assembly” elections has said the government exaggerated the turnout by up to 1 million votes. The new body will have virtually unchecked powers and will be sworn in on Wednesday. — Reuters

WHAT WE’RE READING

Democracy is dying – and it’s startling how few people are worried (The Guardian): “Let’s be brutal: democracy is dying. And the most startling thing is how few ordinary people are worried about it. Every democratic advance in history, from the English revolution of 1642 to the fall of Soviet communism in 1989, began when people understood the concept of rights they were born with, not to be granted or withdrawn. Today that means learning to think like a free human being, not an economic subject.”

Departing AP reporter looks back at Venezuela’s slide (AP): That seemed like rock bottom. Until my local bakery started organising lines each morning, not to buy bread but to eat trash.”

These two TV producers have become famous for tweeting and everyone is like :eyes: (BuzzFeed): “Jaffy and Griffin’s speed has caused a good deal of stress for some of their colleagues at NBC News and MSNBC, who have complained that the two are employing proprietary company information to pump out news to their personal followings first.”

First Golfer: Donald Trump’s relationship with golf has never been more complicated (Sports Illustrated): “Trump is surprisingly limber for a portly man of 6’ 2″, and his good eye-hand coordination shows through in all aspects of his play, but especially in his ability to hole putts, which he does with a wristy, old-fashioned stroke that is nothing like the method preferred by the best players today. On the backswing of his full shots, he takes the club inside and, impressively, gets his left shoulder well behind the ball. He then makes a lunging, down-the-line swing with his feet dancing through the finish. It’s not pretty, but it repeats and it’s a swing with rhythm and power.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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