LIBS ON THE COUNTER-ATTACK

The citizenship saga is set to turn on Labor in the new year, with Liberal MP John Alexander returned by the voters of Bennelong at the weekend byelection, thus restoring Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull‘s majority in the lower house. With the numbers to make referrals to the High Court, the government has vowed to refer three Labor MPs to the court, leaving the party at risk of four byelections after MP David Feeney was referred earlier this year.

The government will hand down its Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook today, which will predict gross debt to be $23 billion lower in 2020-21 than previously forecast. That will save the government $1 billion in interest payments per year. In other news dropping in the lead-up to today’s fiscal update, the government will boost the funding of finance intelligence agency Austrac ($) by $43 million.

As a long year for Turnbull comes to an end, it’s not all rosy.

The final Newspoll of 2017 leaves the government down 47-53 to Labor ($). It could also face a new-year fight with the university sector, with funding expected to be frozen ($) next year, effectively cutting spending.

DOYLE AND TROUBLE 

Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has temporarily stood aside after councillor Tessa Sullivan lodged a complaint of sexual harassment and indecent assault on Friday.

Sullivan alleges Doyle grabbed her breast as she was exiting a car and made sexually explicit comments. Doyle has taken leave, but has said the move should not be interpreted as an admission — he said he had not been made aware of the specific allegations but that those aired in the media were “thoroughly abhorrent”. Sullivan was elected on Doyle’s ticket.

A second allegation against Doyle has been reported in outlets including The Age, which alleges he “clutched” the “upper thigh” of a woman in 2014 meeting.

The council has commissioned an independent investigation into the incident.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Trump lawyer says Mueller illegally obtained transition emails

Suicide bombers attack church in Pakistan’s Quetta before Christmas, killing nine

Turnbull, Shorten staff spend up on travel ($)

Sydney Uni accused of sacking deputy vice-chancellor over relationship rumours ($)

“I couldn’t save my children. It breaks my heart.”

WHAT’S ON TODAY 

Canberra: Treasurer Scott Morrison will release the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.

Sydney: Directions hearing for Channel Seven’s contempt of court proceedings against Amber Harrison.

Melbourne: Terminally ill woman Cas Willow will marry her partner Heather Richards in one of the country’s first same-sex weddings.

THE COMMENTARIAT

Future of media: quality news to press on — Mark Ritson (The Australian $): “2017 began to signal that, for some titles at least, the bleeding is stopping. Paywalls have tightened and the digital subscription income from readers has begun to snake upwards for those titles that did not cut too much out of their production and editorial teams.”

Bennelong: Malcolm Turnbull’s ‘recalled to life’ moment — Laura Tingle (Australian Financial Review $): “Whether you think the actual result is good or bad, it allows us all, but mostly the prime minister, to end 2017 with less uncertainty over the immediate future: the government does not lose its parliamentary majority; a new round of white-anting of the prime minister does not begin; there will be pressure on the troublemakers in the Coalition to fall in line at least for a while.”

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF FRIDAY

Chinese influence is hardly the biggest threat to our democracy — Guy Rundle: “Foreign capital is not the problem; the structure of our politics is, a semi-democratic system at best, cloaked by a parliamentary system whose progressive features allow us to turn a blind eye to its near-total separation from daily life, scrutiny, and responsiveness.”

Murdoch goes back to the future to distract from his declining legacy — Glenn Dyer: “The reality is that Facebook, Google, Netflix, Apple and Amazon have already proved to be far better at being “disruptive” than the Murdochs could ever hope to be. The increasing pressures from these tech giants is why the Murdochs agreed to Disney’s overtures and split Fox. After the ignominy of shareholders forcing his retreat from the US$80 billion bid for Time Warner back in 2014, the Murdochs and Fox have been left behind by the rapidly growing tech giants. “

What the American net neutrality decision means for Australia — Amy Gray: “Net neutrality prioritises people over profit and while this may be yet another example of America run amok, Australia’s yard is far from clean. We have no specified net neutrality as can be seen by ISP offering unmetered access to certain sites or curating their own unmetered space — moves that determine how much people can access online spaces or enjoy online services they’ve paid for.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

Peter Fray

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