GUESS WHO’S BACK (BACK AGAIN)

Former New South Wales premier and unsuccessful Bennelong byelection candidate Kristina Keneally has publicly expressed interest in taking up the federal Labor Senate spot left vacant by Sam Dastyari.

In what one Labor insider has described as a “shitfight,” the The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Keneally put her hand up for the Labor Right spot after her two main rivals, Transport Workers’ Union boss Tony Sheldon and United Voice union’s Tara Moriarty, have seemingly dropped away.

Controlled by Labor Right faction Centre Unity, the spot would traditionally have gone to the state party’s general-secretary Kaila Murnain, who is reportedly preoccupied with a NSW election campaign. Keneally now becomes the only person to stand for the nomination, with Sheldon, the unions’ preferred pick, seemingly holding off for the time being, and Moriarty more likely to be offered a NSW upper house seat.

“I have today indicated to the Labor Party my interest in the Senate vacancy,” Keneally told Fairfax Media. “I am humbled to be considered and look forward to further discussions within the Labor Party.

“Over the coming days I will be speaking with rank-and-file members of the NSW ALP and affiliated trade unions to the Labor Party to seek their support. I respect the ALP’s nomination process and will work within it to earn the backing of our party’s members and the affiliated trade unions.”

Official nominations for the spot close tomorrow, and NSW state parliament will endorse the new senator at a a joint sitting next month.

VIS-A-VIS VISAS

In an escalating dispute over security contracts on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea officials have rejected visa applications for about 50 Paladin Solutions security guards contracted by the Australian government. 

The Australian reports that PNG’s Chief Immigration Officer Solomon Kantha has rejected more than half of Paladin’s 94 visa applications within the last week, saying the company needed to employ more local personnel. Kingfisher Security, a PNG security company, stopped Paladin Solutions guards from entering new refugee accommodation on the basis it should have won the work.

“Yes we approved only about 40 visas but withheld the rest because of the local content issue,” Kantha said following the ruling.

Australian Border Force officials were on Manus Island yesterday attempting to resolve the ongoing dispute between Paladin, which is getting paid $72 million to provide “garrison services” for just over four months, and Kingfisher.

The standoff has unsurprisingly left people seeking asylum within the centre feeling unsafe, according to updates provided by Iranian refugee and journalist Behrouz Boochani.  

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

“The MCA makes the political contributions detailed above because they provide additional opportunities for the MCA to meet with members of parliament.”

— The Minerals Council of Australia, admitting to the role of political donations in a surprisingly honest Senate commission submission.

 

“The best thing you can do, Malcolm, for Victoria is get on the phone, talk to the mobster’s mate, Matthew Guy, and get the Liberal Party to support that [firearm] legislation.”

— Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino, telling Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull off for discussing Victoria’s “gang problems” during a supposedly bipartisan press conference on employment.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Most don’t care when Australia Day is held, poll finds

Scholarship doctors dodging stints in bush ($)

Sydney, Melbourne move up on list of most expensive cities

Third woman comes forward with allegations against lord mayor Robert Doyle

Australian music stars hit back at Cory Bernardi’s Australia Day music list to replace Triple J’s Hottest 100

North, South Korea unite under one flag for Winter Olympics ($)

WHAT’S ON TODAY

South Australia: The state is on hot weather and bushfire alert with temperatures expected to push the mid-40s in some areas.

Melbourne: Sea Life Melbourne will receive a rare spotted handfish.

Melbourne: The Morning Star tapestry will go on display at the Shrine of Remembrance, before being moved to France for permanent exhibition.

Tamworth, NSW: Police will launch a high-visibility operation ahead of this year’s Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Japan: Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will attend a meeting of Japan’s National Security Council when he arrives in Tokyo today.

THE COMMENTARIAT

Public policy on abolition is a disgraceSamantha Maiden (The Australian $): “To put this in context, if next-door neighbours require a dilation and curette at 10 weeks of pregnancy — one for an incomplete miscarriage and another for a legal abortion on request — the Tasmanian government will treat the woman having a miscarriage free in a public hospital, but will insist the woman requiring a legal abortion pay for a plane ticket and a hotel for the same procedure on the mainland, costing up to $500.”

Australia needs a road safety revolution to stop people dying in truck crashes —  Michael Byrne (Sydney Morning Herald): “Driving a truck is tough work. I challenge anyone in an office to sit at their desk for five hours without standing up. So why is it OK in Western Australia for truck drivers to work 17-hour days, or 18-hour days in the Northern Territory? Office workers shouldn’t work 17 hour days – why do we think it is OK for a person doing a physically and mentally taxing job like driving a truck at up to 100km/h to work for 17 hours? That allows drivers at most only seven hours a day to sleep and do all those other things we do when not working.”

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

Former NT News political reporter sues News Corp, alleges interferenceEmily Watkins: “In court documents obtained by Crikey, [former NT News reporter] Chris Walsh alleges that the editor Matt Williams and general manager Greg Thomson arranged with the head of the Chief Minister’s department Jodie Ryan to blind copy them into any media queries from Walsh without his knowledge. He said in the application to the Federal Court that this arrangement was agreed in a meeting about advertising in the newspaper, because Ryan was unhappy with being held to account for decisions made by the department.”

Was Rupert Murdoch lured into a honey trap with a Chinese spy? — Glenn Dyer: “Was Rupert Murdoch married to a Chinese spy for 14 years — and was he lured into a ‘honey trap’ by her while still married to Anna Murdoch? If this all sounds like the stuff of fiction, consider the extraordinary revelations about Murdoch and former wife Wendi Deng Murdoch over the past day.”

Latest changes to detention centre protocols provoke hunger strikes, heartache — Rebekah Holt: “I began visiting Melbourne’s detention centre in Broadmeadows in 2016 because I wanted to see if there really were gross human rights violations happening (as the pesky UN sees it) approximately 15 kilometres from me and my latte in Brunswick. Short answer: yes there were, but they’re now getting grosser.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

 

Peter Fray

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