ISLAMIC STATE LOSES SYRIAN STRONGHOLD

The Syrian army says it has driven Islamic State from the last city it held in the country.

Islamic State fighters were quickly defeated in the town of Albu Kamal by a combination of Syrian and Hezbollah forces, showing little resistance as their self-proclaimed caliphate lost one of its final pieces. Some fighters are still holding out in the surrounding desert region.

The number of Australian jihadis killed in the conflict is now believed to be 87, a “senior government source” told The Australian.

The final capitulation means Islamic State has now all but lost its claimed state in Syria. Despite that, many observers remain concerned the group will switch to guerrilla tactics as sectarian divisions and proxy wars keep the country in a state of chaos.

With tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran reaching new heights, and US-Russian relations reaching new lows, the next showdown in Syria will be between the Arab and Kurdish forces (backed by the US), and the Syrian government forces and Shi’ite militia (backed by Russia and Iran).

‘PUT THE BLOODY LEGISLATION THROUGH’

There are yet more reports of conservative plans to delay the passage of same-sex marriage legislation with conservative Liberal sources telling Fairfax that a bill to rival Dean Smith’s proposal is now being drafted. According to The Australian Financial Review, 12 backbenchers are involved in the process, which is being aided by the conservative Coalition for Marriage.

The noise being made by the spoilers has been growing this week, with Eric Abetz again publicly attacking Smith’s bill, calling it “insufficient”. He rejected the idea a Yes victory should result in legislation being passed by Christmas, something Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has previously said he had “no doubt” would occur. Two sitting weeks remain in the year.

A new Lonergan Research poll published by The Guardian has found 49% of Australians believe those who refuse services to a same-sex wedding should be protected by law. The poll also indicates that 10% of people misled others about their stance on the survey but that, perhaps surprisingly, more yes voters may have misled others about their true response than no voters.

Problematically for the spoilers, senior conservative ministers including Peter Dutton, Scott Morrison and Mathias Cormann are all reportedly keen to have the issue dealt with quickly and to clear the government’s agenda.

Prominent Liberal marriage equality advocate Warren Entsch remains confident the bill will go through by Christmas. “Let’s put the bloody legislation through without any further delay,” he said.

MANUS PICTURES RELEASED

Activist group GetUp has released pictures and video from inside the Manus detention centre where approximately 600 men remain. Published by The Daily Telegraph, the images reveal the squalor of the camp, with men crammed into small rooms, sleeping on the floors, and using waterless bathrooms covered in filth.

The men in the centre were yesterday warned by PNG officials that they would be forcibly removed if they opted not to do so voluntarily. A notice given to the men said the fences around the camp would be destroyed today.

Even those who have opted to live in Papua New Guinea remain angry with the Australian government, with refugee Alex Rashid telling Fairfax that his efforts to settle in the country were being made difficult by the lack of assistance from Australian officials.

READ ALL ABOUT IT 

U.N. says it believes Afghanistan air strike killed civilians

Appleby lawyers hatched plan to set up Australian office but avoid tax there

Mayo MP Rebekha Sharkie may not have renounced British dual-citizenship soon enough before Federal Election

Malcolm Turnbull ups ante by vowing to refer Labor MPs to High Court

Stan takes legal action against Senator Sam Dastyari’s abusers, Patriot Blue, over trademark infringement

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra: Close of nominations for the New England byelection.

Sydney: NSW Supreme Court hands down its decision on the transfer of Ten Network shares to CBS.

Danang: Leaders from around the world, including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, gather for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

THE COMMENTARIAT

Think a ‘Yes’ vote will be the end of the matter? Don’t be so sure … — Waleed Aly (Sydney Morning Herald): “Having argued this survey was needed so the public’s voice could be heard, having then asked the public to say ‘no’ on the basis that these freedoms would be under threat, and having most likely seen the public reject that argument, it now offers these very arguments as a basis for rejecting whatever legislation is finally introduced to parliament.”

PM safe, for the moment — Sharri Markson (The Daily Telegraph $): “Here’s what some of their discussions around replacement leadership candidates sound like: Dutton is not tried and tested and is unpopular with moderates; Morrison has abandoned his conservative credentials while his superannuation policy was one of the first moves costing the Liberal Party support among its base; and Tony Abbott is too divisive, and while Bishop may be the ‘sugar-hit’ the party needs to get it through an election, they doubt she’d withstand the scrutiny of a 33-day campaign.”

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

Now showing: Citizenship Crisis. Coming soon in 2018: Liberal Leadership Troubles. — Bernard Keane: “The carnage that polls suggest Queensland and Western Australian voters are ready to inflict on Coalition ranks might instead be Coming Soon in the New Year. That might concentrate some minds about who can “save the furniture”. Which, at the moment, isn’t the incumbent.”

Could historical ministerial decisions be overturned? — Sally Whyte: “If someone were considering leveraging the family tree of a former minister who made decisions they didn’t like, they are very unlikely to be successful.”

Oh, those anti-Russians … — Helen Razer: “There is no evidence of orchestrated ‘misinformation’. But it has become accepted alternative fact that ‘Russia’ interfered in the US election.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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