IT’S BENNELONG CAMPAIGN

As the week draws to its conclusion and the year of politics nears its end, all eyes have turned to the byelection contest in Bennelong, where the Coalition government is attempting to maintain its absolute majority in the House of Representative by having John Alexander returned as the local member.

Much hinges on the result for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, with the government holding off on a cabinet reshuffle ($) until after the outcome is known.

With so much at stake, residents have been overwhelmed by the level of campaigning. According to The Daily Telegraph, unions have flooded the Sydney seat with campaigners ($) and spent thousands on truck-mounted billboards. Residents have been receiving regular, sometimes daily, push-polling and robo-calls, sparking complaints to the local council. 

In good news for Turnbull, a Fairfax/ReachTELL poll today finds that Alexander remains ahead of Labor challenger Kristina Keneally on the two-party-preferred measure by 53-47. It also found that around half of all voters in the seat said their decision would be impacted by the ongoing Senator Sam Dastyari and Chinese donations scandal. The Daily Telegraph reveals ($) today that despite calling on Dastyari to “consider his position” after meetings with donor Huang Xiangmo, Labor MP Linda Burny also met with the donor last year.

The scandal, and the Prime Minister’s aggressive pursuit of the issue, is causing diplomatic headaches. The Australian reports ($) that Australia’s ambassador to China, Jan Adams, was summoned last week to reassure the Chinese government over the new anti-foreign interference laws being debated by Parliament.

UNI CUTS BACK

The government will once again attempt to cut funding to universities after a string of failed attempts to legislate savings. The Australian Financial Review reports ($) that Education Minister Simon Birmingham will forge ahead with the savings in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, opting to find savings that do not require legislative approval.

Industry sources told the paper the government could likely find around $2.3 billion in cuts this way, which is less than the $2.8 billion the government tried to cut via legislated changes that were blocked in the senate. Both the Group of Eight universities and peak body Universities Australia have signalled their opposition to the plan.

NBN LOWERS RATES

The price of internet plans sold via the National Broadband Network could soon drop with the network set to lower wholesale prices to providers. The move is designed to ease the cost on consumers who have so far opted for cheaper, slower packages, as providers have bought insufficient bandwidth and struggled to provide promised browsing speeds. 

The NBN Co is supposed to eventually return a profit and has conceded ($) the cuts will reduce its revenue in the short-term. The new plans will become available in the second quarter of 2018.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Palestinians no longer accept US as mediator, Abbas tells summit

Austrac adds to Commonwealth Bank ‘failures’ file ($)

Jeff Horn beats Gary Corcoran in Battle of Brisbane 2, defends WBO welterweight world title

Ireland has lessons for Australia eight years after its own child abuse royal commission

Cash controversy media man lands new job ($)

Doug Jones’s victory over Roy Moore could mean a dramatic shift in Congress

WHAT’S ON TODAY 

Sydney: The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse sits for the last time.

Sydney: NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet delivers the state’s mid-year economic update.

Perth: The third Ashes test begins in Perth. Victory for Australia will see them reclaim the urn.

NSW: Year 12 students receive their end-of-school Higher School Certificate results.

THE COMMENTARIAT

Bennelong byelection 2017: Are we there yet? — Kathryn Wicks (Sydney Morning Herald): “The next day, the first robopoll call came. It felt like a Labor push-poll as one of the questions asked: ‘Which issue are you most concerned about? Press 1 for cuts to this. Press 2 for cuts to that, and so on.’ Then came a robocall from Mr Alexander. Then another poll. After about five calls I lost count.”

Turnbull must gear up to hit the road — Niki Savva (The Australian $): “The two issues that can unify inner-suburban city professionals with regional One Nationites are the economy — everything from tax cuts to cost of living — and national security. Get those right and the rest becomes peripheral, providing the factions are not shredding each other.”

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

Remembering two stalwarts of the Indigenous Black Power movement — Guy Rundle: “Black Power as a self-conscious movement came out of a series of increasingly tense struggles with a violent police force in Redfern, and the virtual police state of Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s Queensland. From the start, it saw itself as part of a global movement, not denying the special condition of Aboriginal Australia, but keen to connect to the idea that blackness was a global historical condition, covering many ethnicities.”

Australia shouldn’t follow the US on company tax cuts — Bernard Keane: “The Tax Policy Centre’s analysis of Trump’s plan warned it would cost $2.4 trillion and generate no sustained increase in economic growth. It conducted two separate analyses using different models; its own modelling showed the package “would boost economic growth for the first few years but slow the economy after that” while using different modelling found it would “result in small increases in growth from 2018-2027 and slow the economy in the following 10 years”.”

‘A vision of the future’: Bauer’s fading fortunes signal an industry in peril — Emily Watkins: “The former senior manager who spoke to Crikey said that the Australian market had baffled the German owners, who still make good money on their low-cost magazines overseas just on the cover-price.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

Peter Fray

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