There are concerns among business that the focus on Chinese government influence over Australian politics could harm trade and co-operation, as the Turnbull government looks to push the issue despite fresh questions over the Coalition’s own relations with Communist Party officials.

Both Fairfax and News Corp papers are reporting the same “exclusive” this morning, with sources claiming embattled Labor Senator Sam Dastyari pressured Labor’s deputy leader Tanya Plibersek not to meet with Hong Kong pro-democracy advocate Joseph Cheng Yu-shek during a 2015 visit. The story adds yet more fuel to the Dastyari fire, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stepping-up his attack over the weekend ($).

“Do you think you win any respect in Beijing or China by being able to be bought off like that for a few thousand dollars,” Turnbull said. “I mean, [Dastyari] has provoked nothing other than contempt and then of course … providing countersurveillance tips to his benefactor.”

But it’s not just Labor with issues over foreign influence.

The Australian today reports ($) that Western Australian Liberal fundraising group The 500 Club has invited state and federal MPs to a private briefing from Chinese government officials and business figures. The paper also reports angst among business groups about the economic fallout of the ongoing foreign influence saga, with former Labor premier and head of the Australia China Business Council John Brumby warning ($) the relationship between the countries is “very finely balanced”. 

Increasingly, the sources of the China leaks are being questioned, with Labor insiders telling The Saturday Paper they fear ASIO or the United States could be strategically deploying the information.


Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions have again increased, according to modelling released by NDEVR Environmental. The government is now six months behind on releasing its official data on emissions. In recent years, the government has opted not to do so until days before Christmas, despite having the data on hand.

But NDEVR’s projections, which have proved accurate in the past, show Australia’s emissions rising off the back of increases from the transport industry. These increases countered a reduction in emissions from the energy sector, driven by a boost to wind generation in Victoria and New South Wales.

The rising emissions come as fears over excessive land-clearing spread to the Northern Territory, according to another story reported exclusively by The Guardian today.

While the issue has been debated heavily in Queensland, and NSW is set to increase the amount of native vegetation cleared each year, NT environmental groups are now raising the alarm over a projected 10-fold increase in clearing this year (compared to the average over the past dozen years).


Australian soldiers will remain in Iraq until at least mid-way through next year, despite the country declaring victory over Islamic State at the weekend. There are around 300 Australian troops in the country courtesy of a recent deployment.

While Defence Minister Marise Payne said Australia would now review its role in the country, former Chief of Army Peter Leahy has suggested Australian bombing raids in the country should now end.


The colourful background of the man behind a franchise fortune

Nobel Peace Prize: ICAN urges nuclear powers to adopt ban-the-bomb treaty

Private schools set to get more than they need under Gonski 2.0, documents reveal

NDIS hired more executive contractors than staff despite warning

Mining investment surges but Adani project unlikely: BIS ($)


Around the Country: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will appear on the ABC’s Q&A program and sit for a radio interview with The Daily Telegraph‘s Miranda Devine.

Darwin: Mention for former NT police commissioner John McRoberts, who faces trial for attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Sydney: Former deputy mayor of Auburn City Council Salim Mehajer due in court over charges of alleged voter fraud.


The same-sex marriage postal vote worked but we shouldn’t use it again — Peter Dutton (Sydney Morning Herald): “the nature of this issue and the significance of a proposal to fundamentally change a social foundation stone that dictated the break-glass option of the postal plebiscite.  The postal plebiscite is not a tool for garden variety issues of public policy.”

Why changes are not ‘dumbing down’ the ABC — Judith Whelan (Sydney Morning Herald): “Duration is not the only marker of quality. If it was, would that mean that AM has always been a lesser program, with less impact, because it has only been half an hour? Hardly. It has long set, and continues to set, the morning agenda.”


Poll Bludger: as Tim Nicholls finally concedes, what has the LNP learned? — William Bowe: “A demerger could only work if the Coalition that resulted was dominated by the Liberal Party, such that it would cause regional voters’ doubts to re-emerge in a new form.”

When he’s not fighting homophobes, he’s fighting recalcitrant bureaucrats — Bernard Keane: “Between [Senator Dean] Smith and the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), under Auditor-General Grant Hehir, there is a diminishing tolerance for bureaucrats offering pro forma responses accepting ANAO recommendations but never following through.”

How it feels to be caricatured in Richard Flanagan’s new novel — Sandy Grant: “The more I sat feeling ‘devastated’ by my depiction, the more it occurred to me that whilst I had become a cartoon character, Richard’s own persona in the novel had grown into an authentic working-class hero, not the recently minted Rhodes Scholar from Oxford University I interviewed and then contracted in 1991.”