DATE DILEMMA

Leaders from both sides of politics have rejected a push from Greens’ leader Richard Di Natale to change the date of Australia Day, a priority the Greens announced yesterday in an acknowledgement of the pain the current date brings for many Indigenous Australians.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hit back at Di Natale’s announcement through a Facebook video, in which Turnbull acknowledged that European settlement in Australia has been “complex and tragic for Indigenous Australians” but maintained the current date offers “a day to come together and celebrate what unites us, what inspires us, what gives all of us reason to be proud that we are Australian”.

“I’m disappointed by those who want to change the date of Australia Day, seeking to take a day that unites Australia and Australians and turn it into one that would divide us,” Turnbull said. “A free country debates its history; it does not deny it. It builds new monuments as it preserves old ones, writes new books, not burn old ones.”

On top of similar rejections from Nationals’ leader Barnaby Joyce and Assistant Home Affairs Minister Alex Hawke, who reiterated the government’s willingness to crack down on local councils that might support the change, the office of Labor leader Bill Shorten confirmed his position had not changed from supporting the current date.

Supporters of changing the date include prominent Indigenous Australians such as academic Marcia Langton, comedian Nakkiah Lui, and hip hop duo A.B.Original. Former tennis champ Pat Cash also spoke out in support of a date change yesterday, while a Melbourne council that attacked the date, Moreland City Council, reports fears its citizenship ceremony could become a target for violent nationalist protests.

WAGE WAR

New research by the Labor-aligned McKell Institute suggests low wage growth and unequal spending on the “infrastructure of opportunity” threaten to worsen intergenerational inequality. 

In news that coincides with all-time-low wage rise stagnation, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Australia has avoided a recession nationally yet findings in the Mapping Opportunity: a national index on wages and income report suggest the income gap is widening and that wage opportunities fluctuate according to the country’s 150 federal electorates.

A progressive think tank, the McKell Institute found that the greatest “access” to income for working age Australians tended to be concentrated in affluent, predominantly Liberal-held, inner-city electorates. These also tend to have higher education levels on average, employment variability, and, in an emerging driver of social mobility, access to the internet.

According to McKell Institute director Sam Crosby, the research highlighted the need for stronger wages growth in the immediate term, and the need for “infrastructure” spending to overcome geographical and class disadvantage, in the longer term.

“People want a fair go for their kids, not just extra dollars today,” Crosby said. “Access to internet has risen to be a key determinant in accessing good employment and electorates like Lingiari (NT), Fowler (NSW), Parkes (NSW), Blaxland (NSW) and Werriwa (NSW) have over 8000 people on average in each electorate who have no internet access in their dwellings.”

In an accompanying editorial piece for Fairfax media, Crosby urged the Labor party to emphasise social mobility as its primary mission.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT

“I take a little bit of offence to the comments and suggestions that the president is racist. I’m sure that we are not, any of us, suggesting that Canada and Australia and their leaders are racists.” — US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, discussing Donald Trump’s immigration policy and hitting much closer to the truth than she maybe realised on Fox News.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

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Dutton, Turnbull legitimising anti-immigrant vigilantes, say experts

Channel Seven ‘crossed a line’ with neo-Nazi interview

Neil Prakash link to New York bomb plotter

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Tamworth, NSW: 30 years after the murder of Aboriginal teenager Mark Haines, Haines’ remains will be returned to Gomeroi country, to be cremated by his family, and police will address media following reports of a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of his killer.

THE COMMENTARIAT

Dutton’s attacks on the judiciary are anything but conservativeMichael Stanton (The Age) “Despite all the fear-mongering, over the past few years in Victoria we have seen an explosion of legislation that makes it harder to get bail and that ties the hands of judges when sentencing offenders. Organisations like Liberty Victoria, the Law Institute of Victoria and the Law Council of Australia oppose such laws because they weaken the ability of judicial officers to do justice in the individual case. Many people do not understand the unfairness of this until they, or a friend or family member, are on the receiving end of a mandatory sentence, or are told that despite the presumption of innocence they will not get bail pending trial.”

Peace is coming, but it’s under the radarRon Finkel (The Australian $)  “What I see today began more than 100 years ago in pre-Mandate Palestine through the activism of Henrietta Szold. She was an American who believed an effective and lasting healthcare service was the key to building interpersonal relationships. Her self-appointed jurisdiction was Palestine in the early 1900s. Her example is universal and timeless, yet cutting through the competing interests is more difficult today than it has ever been.”

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

Attacks on South Sudanese cover for the Libs’ nationalist crisisBernard Keane: “After all the debate about what’s labelled, occasionally correctly, as “identity politics”, progressives should at least be aware that when cries of racism start going up, the smart move is to think about the economics involved. And you don’t even need to be — pace my good friend Ms Razer — a Marxist to find that a useful approach.”

Unfinished business: the fight for marriage equality isn’t over for trans AustraliansAllison Gallagher: “For decades, a significant portion of married transgender Australians have been forced to legally divorce their partners in order to have their sex legally affirmed on their birth certificates. Initially, the law’s purpose was to close a “loophole” to marriage equality (back when it was still illegal) — in that, if a trans person’s legal sex matched that of their spouse, they would technically be in a same-sex marriage. It’s a particularly cruel piece of legislation, which currently exists in all states and territories besides South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.”

Gas industry roll-out linked to startling rise in Darling Downs hospital admissionsEve Sinton: “The rapid expansion of the coal seam gas industry in Queensland’s Darling Downs has been accompanied by a startling rise in hospital admissions, according to report published in International Journal of Environmental Studies, pointing to inadequate environmental monitoring and regulatory failure by Queensland government agencies.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

Peter Fray

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