BRANDIS ABROAD

Attorney-General George Brandis is on the verge of a long-anticipated exit from federal politics, with the Turnbull government expected to reshuffle its ministry today. It is widely reported that Brandis will vacate his position in the Senate to take over the role of High Commissioner in London, currently held by Alexander Downer. It is also reported that Senator Arthur Sinodinos will not return to cabinet after stepping aside due to poor health.

The opening of the Attorney-General position is tipped to be filled by Western Australian MP Christian Porter, with Dan Tehan expected to move into cabinet in what The Australian is calling a win for conservatives ($). Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce will move to the Transport and Infrastructure portfolio while fellow Nationals MP Bridget McKenzie goes into cabinet. Peter Dutton will head the new Home Affairs super-portfolio.

There is movement at the Labor station as well, with Transport Workers Union national secretary Tony Sheldon reportedly ($) interested in the Senate seat vacated by Sam Dastyari, which could put him on a collision course with defeated Bennelong candidate and former New South Wales premier Kristina ­Keneally.

Ready to rush head-long into the new year, both major parties face a major obstacle in March, when South Australians head to the polls. A Newspoll published in The Australian ($) has Nick Xenophon’s South Australia Best party ahead of both on primary vote, though Xenophon has so far announced candidates for just six seats. 

ENGLAND UP IN FLAMES

Australia has reclaimed the Ashes, humiliating England by claiming the third Test in Perth as the touring side again capitulated in the face of a pace attack onslaught.

Australian captain Steve Smith took home the Man of the Match honours for his double-century effort as quick Josh Hazlewood grabbed five wickets in the second innings to ensure England couldn’t bat out a rain-affected final day in Perth.

At the start of the tour, Australian spin bowler Nathan Lyon taunted the English side by saying he hoped the visit would end some of their careers. With former captain Alastair Cook badly out of form and averaging just 13.83 for the series, he may get his wish.

SOUTH AFRICA SET FOR NEW LEADER

Cyril Ramaphosa is likely to become the next president of South Africa after winning the African National Congress (ANC) leadership election, paving the way for the anti-apartheid activist and businessman to run for the country’s top office in 2019.

Ramaphosa beat out Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the former wife of current president Jacob Zuma, who had run on a more populist platform and promised major economic transformation. Zuma has been hit by allegations of corruption in recent years, which he has denied.

The ANC has dominated South African politics since the demise of the apartheid system, though faces new political threats as it tries to maintain its standing.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Amtrak train derails on bridge over Washington state highway killing ‘multiple’ people

Polluters get ‘in principle’ okay to buy foreign carbon credits ($)

Myefo: Morrison unveils cuts to welfare, universities and family payments

A million Australians abuse prescription drugs

WHAT’S ON TODAY 

South Australia: Year 12 students will be able to access their final results.

Melbourne: Directions hearing in case featuring Toll, which is trying to stop far-right Neil Luke Erikson activist from wearing its uniform in videos and protests.

THE COMMENTARIAT

Budget update: costs in control but wage forecast is key — David Uren (The Australian $): “With wages rising at their lowest rate on record, it seems unlikely that personal income tax payments will soar 22 per cent or $41bn over the next three years.”

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

‘Apartheid is a very close parallel’: life under the Protection Act in Qld — Charlie Lewis: “‘You weren’t allowed to ask questions. You didn’t say anything, unless you were asked,’ he said. ‘Today people wouldn’t believe what happened to us — we were slaves, basically a step up from being an animal. But it really happened.'”

Poll Bludger: what just happened in Bennelong? — William Bowe: “However, the other side of this coin is that there was barely any swing in the parts of Bennelong dominated by educated and affluent metropolitan whites — a rarely discussed breed of voter that responds more favourably to Malcolm Turnbull than it did to John Howard or Tony Abbott, and is likewise present in fairly substantial numbers in Reid and, to a lesser extent, Banks.”

Does cutting company tax increase wages? — Bernard Keane: “Let’s look at a real-world example. Starting under former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown and continuing under the Tories, the UK government has cut its company tax rate significantly, from 30% to, currently, 19% (although it has tightened some areas of deductions to partly offset the cost). So, has the UK seen real wages growth?”

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Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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