RETURN TO SENDER?
The High Court will today decide whether the government has the authorisation to conduct a $122 million postal survey on the issue of marriage equality. Survey papers are already printed and ready to send out next week, so an unfavourable verdict would be quite the blow to the Turnbull government. According to Fairfax:
“The opponents’ case centred on a number of claims: that the Australian Bureau of Statistics did not have authority to collect the kind of information requested of it; that the postal plebiscite did not fall under the banner of ‘ordinary annual government services’; and that the Coalition did not have the power to spend $122 million on the survey without parliamentary approval.”
Robocalls on the issue are being conducted by polling giant ReachTEL, but the results of the calls are not linked to any campaign or media outlet — they are a dry run for ReachTEL to put its new number-crunching system to the test. “This is a trial run for the federal election. The beauty with the same-sex marriage vote is there are only a few variables — yes or no, participate or did not participate — rather than nine different political parties,” ReachTEL boss James Stewart told News.com.au.
FOR SALE: POWER STATION, AS IS
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg will meet AGL chief executive Andy Vesey to try to convince him to sell, rather than decommission, the Liddell coal-fired power station in the NSW Hunter Valley, even though doing so would be against AGL’s commercial interests. In a series of tweets on Tuesday the AGL boss said the company was getting out of coal and the Liddell plant was past its use-by date, but the government wants it to remain open for another five years. Two private companies, Delta Electricity and a second that did not want to be named, have expressed interest in buying the station, which will come as a relief to the government because the alternative might be for the Commonwealth to buy Liddell itself. But AGL does not seem to be in the mood to sell — the company’s statement to the ASX yesterday rather airily “notes” speculation and the government’s interest, but confirms “the company has made no commitment to sell the Liddell Power Station nor to extend its life beyond 2022”.
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THE NUMBER: 200,000
That’s the number of Australians living in or visiting South Korea, Japan or China at any one time. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the Australian government had “comprehensive contingency plans” to help those Australians should North Korea launch military action against Japan or South Korea. Japan, meanwhile, is said to have plans to evacuate 60,000 of its citizens from South Korea should North Korea make good on its threats. Malcolm Turnbull talked to US President Donald Trump yesterday about how the countries should handle the increasingly bellicose Pyongyang, committing to increased sanctions and putting pressure on China to bring the rogue state to heel. “We will both continue to encourage China to bring more economic pressure to bear on North Korea to bring this regime to its senses,” Turnbull said.
HE SAID IT
“I don’t think it’s a thylacine, I know it’s a thylacine.” Adrian “Richo” Richardson, one of a trio of thylacine trackers to claim to have seen (and captured on film) a Tasmanian tiger. A Tasmanian wildlife expert who has reviewed the footage thinks there is a “one in three chance” the animal in the images is a Tasmanian tiger, but it is more likely to be a quoll. Fellow thylacine tracker Greg Booth says seeing a thylacine in person in 2015 changed everything. “They’ve never been extinct and they never will be.”
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Sydney: The winner of the Miles Franklin Award will be announced today.
Perth: WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt will hand down the state budget. Wyatt says the budget will represent “a big reprioritisation of the new government’s agenda”.
Adelaide: Australian tennis player Thanasi Kokkinakis will face off with cereal giant Kellogg’s in the Federal Court over whether Kokkinakis can use the name Special K for his sportswear range.
Melbourne: The High Court will deliver its ruling on whether the same-sex marriage postal survey can go ahead (see above).
Melbourne’s Rohingya community will rally outside the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Melbourne as Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims flee to Bangladesh to escape violence.
Pope of Alexandria Tawadros II and Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle will hold a media conference as the Coptic Pope arrives in Melbourne.
READ ALL ABOUT IT
The palace treats Australia as the colonial child not to be trusted with knowledge of its own history — Jenny Hocking (The Guardian): “There is no doubt that these letters are of the greatest historical significance. We know this from extracts of six of the palace letters which I identified among [governor-general John] Kerr’s papers in the archives, and also from a rare glimpse into Kerr’s communications with the Queen’s private secretary, Sir Martin Charteris, detailed by Kerr in his 1980 journal. Kerr refers there to ‘Charteris’ advice to me on dismissal’ and to his communications with Charteris about his concern that he himself could be dismissed – that [Gough] Whitlam might recall him should he become aware that Kerr was secretly considering dismissing him as prime minister.”
The cashless welfare card may not be quite the success it seems — Peter Martin (Sydney Morning Herald): “The so-called cashless welfare card has been tried before … There was no evidence of changes in spending patterns, no evidence of any overall improvement in financial wellbeing, no evidence of improvement in community wellbeing, including for children, and evidence of the kind of learned helplessness that flows from making people dependent on the decisions of others.”
CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY
Dick Smith shortlisted for Arsehat of the Year over his ABC dummy spit — Emily Watkins: “The entrepreneur and publicity magnet is incredibly upset that the ABC has apparently been ignoring his campaign against population growth. So upset that he’s going to launch an advertising campaign against the national broadcaster. Or so he’s told The Sydney Morning Herald, which has given him most of its second page today. According to the report, which wasn’t in the Herald‘s Melbourne stablemate The Age, but is on its website, Smith reckons politicians on all sides can’t publicly say they support cutting immigration because the ABC would label them racist — something he’s called ‘treasonous’. So now he’s told the Herald, without apparently actually putting any money on the line yet, that he’ll be running an advertising campaign to ‘take away the ABC’s credibility’ on the issue.
Company profits boom while regular Aussies suffer record-low wage growth — Alan Austin: “Clearly, Australia’s national wealth and income are increasing rapidly, as is happening across the developed world. This is evident in the record streak of trade balances, the value of the sharemarket, tourist arrivals, the inexorable growth in gross domestic product — a world-record 26 years — and, now, booming company profits. All these — together with the results in company annual reports — confirm that the big corporations are raking it in and executives are dining out. The tragedy for Australia is that, simultaneously, other indicators show that the majority of the community are missing out badly on a fair share of the rapidly expanding economic pie.”
Tips and rumours: Sex and the Peninsula: “We know children can access adult content on the nasty web, but it’s not usually thanks to a school email. The lights were burning late at Peninsula Grammar in Victoria on Tuesday night after a note promoting a Brownlow breakfast accidentally included a live link to an Asian porn site. The missive went to all year 7 to 12 students but was swiftly removed from school inboxes along with an instruction not to click. Crikeyasked the school what had happened, and a statement informed us that a typo in the link to trybooking.com was the problem. If you leave off the letter R, you get a very NSFW website, the top (safe-ish) bit of which is reproduced below. The school also professed to being “deeply remorseful” and “extremely upset” with the situation. An innocent, if costly, mistake. Sorry, kids!