WHAT TURNBULL NEEDS

Another Monday, another bad Newspoll result for the Prime Minister, with the Coalition still trailing Labor 47-53 in two-party preferred terms, reports The AustralianHowever, Malcolm Turnbull‘s lead as preferred prime minister has grown to its highest level this year, with 46% of Australians preferring Turnbull and just 31% preferring Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. And there’s another public scolding for Turnbull over in Fairfax, which commissioned Ipsos to conduct focus groups in Melbourne and Sydney about Turnbull’s performance. The results: unanimously bad, with respondents saying the PM had “sorely disappointed” them. “He just needs to grow, pardon me, balls,” one Sydney voter told the group.

Perhaps a sage piece of advice for the PM as he faces what is likely to be a very lively discussion in the Liberal party room later today over the topic of marriage equality. MPs are expected to cast secret ballots at the 4pm meeting to let Turnbull gauge whether there is now a critical mass of moderate MPs pushing for a free vote in Parliament, or whether, as expected, the numbers are solidly in favour of sticking to an Abbott-era compromise of a plebiscite on the issue. Labor, the Greens and some of the crossbench stymied the plebiscite legislation in the Senate, but a new plan to conduct the plebiscite by postal vote would not require legislation to enact. A proposal for the postal vote is expected to be presented to federal cabinet following the party room meeting. Turnbull, of course, is on record opposing a postal plebiscite, so it remains to be seen if that is a position he is happy to jettison. 

HE SAID IT

“I’m focused on doing my job and am not spending any time on thinking about my own position.” That’s embattled Commonwealth Bank CEO Ian Narev, who despite assurances is almost certainly spending a good deal of time thinking about his own position, as commentators call for him to fall on his sword following accusations last week CBA was guilty of “serious and systemic” breaches of money-laundering laws.

Under federal law, banks must report to security agency AUSTRAC transactions over $10,000. AUSTRAC alleges that CommBank failed to do so 53,700 times since 2012. Of those, 1640 were related to money laundering syndicates currently under police investigation, and six were related to customers the bank itself had identified as having terrorism links. The Commonwealth Bank is looking at a potential fine of $960 billion. Narev told The Australian Financial Review the bank had made mistakes and vowed “unequivocally” that senior management would be held responsible. CBA will release its full-year financial results on Monday. Of course, the scandal has intensified calls for a royal commission into the banks.

PAPERS, PLEASE

Sharri Markson reports in today’s Daily Telegraph a national identification card is being considered as part of a raft of security measures. Writes Markson:

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester and Justice Minister Michael­ Keenan will present a range of measures to the National­ Security Committee of Cabinet soon — possibly within the week. Requiring passengers to show ID before boarding domestic flights will be considered, with sources suggesting there could be renewed discussion about a national ID card.”

Parcels and cargo to and from the Middle East will also come in for increased screening. 

SEARCH FOR MARINES CALLED OFF

Authorities have suspended search and rescue operations for the three missing US Marines whose aircraft crashed off the coast of Queensland on Saturday. The MV-22 Osprey ditched into the ocean off Queensland about 4pm following a “mishap”, and 23 of the 26 on board were rescued from the waters off Rockhampton. The missing three are presumed dead, and Australian navy divers and a survey ship are expected to help with the salvage and recovery operations starting today. 

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Third man arrested in Sydney terror raids charged, released on bail to face court on weapons offence

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Australian Industry Group will release monthly construction data.

Canberra: The Liberal party room will meet, followed by a cabinet meeting. Both will be focused on the current push from with moderate Liberal ranks to bring marriage equality to a free vote in Parliament (details above).

Melbourne: There will be a court mention for six Victorian men alleged to have been trying to leave Australia by boat to join Islamic State.

THE COMMENTARIAT

Bill Shorten’s same-sex marriage stance is hypocrisy writ large — Tony Abbott (The Australian $): “Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull never liked the plebiscite policy but fully grasps the importance of keeping commitments and, to his credit, is now resolute that nothing can change without a plebiscite first.”

Voters’ concerns about housing affordability reflects a political disconnect — Laura Tingle (Australian Financial Review $): “[Voters] are disappointed with Malcolm Turnbull but they don’t like or trust Bill Shorten. And contempt is the only word to describe their view of Tony Abbott’s destructive contributions.”

Same-sex marriage: going postal the best solution for plebiscite — Peter Hartcher (The Age): “The cabinet meeting is taking shape as a contest between the author of the postal plebiscite compromise, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, and the advocate for an immediate parliamentary vote to allow gay marriage, Attorney-General George Brandis.”

Path internships show government is on the wrong track — Greg Jericho (Guardian Australia): “Common sense tells you that when you have an industry that pays less than others, employs more young people than others, and has a much higher level of underemployment than others, it is not really in need of policy that will have 10,000 young people working for less than the minimum wage and for which the employer will not only not have to pay them, but will be given $1,000 from the government.”

Sydney’s synagogue ban is just cowardly — Tim Blair (The Daily Telegraph $): “Imagine a council knocking back a mosque application for fears terrible bigots would throw pigs’ heads at it or deface the building with anti-Islamic graffiti.”

TODAY IN TRUMP

Donald Trump’s Vice-President Mike Pence has been forced to deny reports he is considering his own bid for the presidency in 2020. With Trump’s administration beset by chaos, The New York Times reports big-name Republicans are exploring their options, with Pence’s staff privately telling donors the former governor would run if Trump decided not to.

THE WORLD

A small military revolt has been suppressed in Venezuela. Soldiers stationed in the country’s north-west have been arrested after releasing a video vowing to end the “tyranny” of socialist President Nicolas Maduro. One person was killed in the incident. — BBC

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi says he has warned his North Korean counterpart not to provoke the international community’s goodwill with further missile tests. Over the weekend, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to introduce a new round of sanctions on North Korea, designed to target its missile programs. — The Guardian

Israel’s Communications Minister Ayoub Kara has confirmed a crackdown on the Qatari media company Al Jazeera. Under pressure from a number of Arab states, the station will now be forced to close its Jerusalem office and is likely to be pulled from broadcast in Israel, which accuses Al Jazeera of “incitement”. — Reuters

WHAT WE’RE READING

Why leaking transcripts of Trump’s calls is so dangerous (The Atlantic): “No leader will again speak candidly on the phone to Washington, D.C. — at least for the duration of this presidency, and perhaps for longer. If these calls can be leaked, any call can be leaked — and no leader dare say anything to the president of the United States that he or she would not wish to read in the news at home.”

Trump’s approval rating is historically low. It’s also terrifyingly high (The Week): “… something between one-third and two-fifths of the American people apparently liking what they see and hear from the White House. They approve of the constant ignoble churn and presumably want it to continue. This is the kind of politics they prefer.”

The end of this road: the decline of the Palestinian national movement (The New Yorker): “With Arafat’s death, Fatah lost not only the forefather and leader of its foundational militant phase but its very raison d’être. Without “armed struggle,” the national movement had no clear ideology, no specific discourse, no distinctive experience or character. In the absence of a genuine and independent state, it was unable to transform itself into a ruling party, as, for example, the African National Congress did, in South Africa.”

Venezuela’s unprecedented collapse (Project Syndicate): “Venezuela’s economic catastrophe dwarfs any in the history of the US, Western Europe, or the rest of Latin America. Venezuela is now the world’s most indebted country. No country has a larger public external debt as a share of GDP or of exports, or faces higher debt service as a share of exports.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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