ASIO RAIDS AUNTY

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) officers have moved to secure thousands of top-secret, classified cabinet files in early morning raids of the ABC’s Canberra and Brisbane offices.

According to the ABC, officers delivered safes to the public broadcaster’s Parliament House Bureau and South Bank studios around 1.00am Thursday morning, just hours after select documents were published.

The operations follow the explosive leaks of cabinet documents, meant to remain classified for 20 years but hilariously found in an actual cabinet by the ABC. The ABC still has access to the documents, now kept in the safes, and negotiations are underway between lawyers for the ABC and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C).

Revelations included former immigration minister Scott Morrison intentionally delayed refugee processing, Tony Abbott‘s government considered taking people under 30 off Centrelink, and that John Howard considered removing the right to silence altogether.

Former PM Kevin Rudd has taken to Twitter to announce he will be suing the ABC over the leaks.

TURNBULL ON THE TRAIL?

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will spruik business as the key to economic recovery, and the dangers of Labor to the same, in a very electioneering speech in Toowoomba today.

The Australian Financial Review reports that, whereas Bill Shorten focused on workers’ rights and greater business accountability, Turnbull will use his year-opening speech to argue for the retention of company tax cuts, additional tax cuts for middle- and low-income earners, and a return to surplus by 2020-21:

“The most important engine for economic growth, investment and employment is business and, in particular, small and medium businesses, overwhelmingly owned and operated by Australian families,” Turnbull will say on Thursday.

After legislating for a lower tax rate for businesses with turnovers of under $50 million last year, Turnbull will recommit to passing the remainder of the package, specifically a drop from 30% to 25% for all businesses by 2026-27, when parliament resumes next week.

Ahead of a potential 2018 federal election, Turnbull will also hit out at Shorten’s call for a higher minimum wage as violating “the laws of supply and demand,” although, like the Opposition Leader, Turnbull has not yet outlined how his government would fund his changes.

 

SPY WATCHDOG LASHES NEW ESPIONAGE LAWS

Watchdogs for Australia’s intelligence and security agencies have warned that the government’s proposed foreign interference laws could cause spies to become reluctant to hand over damaging information for fear of possible prosecution. 

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Office of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) and the Commonwealth Ombudsman have criticised the Coalition government’s bill for its potential impact on whistleblowers, who could face up to 20 years in jail for communicating protected government information. This follows similar backlash from media companies, academics and human rights groups

In a submission to the public inquiry, the IGIS warned:

It is possible that the prospect of exposure to criminal investigation and prosecution, and the need to satisfy a court of the evidential burden in relation to a defence, may deter some individuals from speaking up about real or perceived wrongdoing by an intelligence agency.

The legislation would also create a public registry for groups that seek to influence Australian politics on behalf of foreign interests, make it an offence to influencing a political process or government decision in a way that damages “Australia’s national interest”.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

“Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives.”

— US President Donald Trump, lying about the mechanics of “chain migration” in his first State of the Union.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Electric cars the end of the road for dealerships ($)

‘Inexplicable’: seaplane flew dramatically off course before killing six

Recycling on the brink of collapse in Victoria as China ban bites

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra: Productivity Commission draft report due on competition in Australia’s financial system.

Canberra: Nominations officially close for Sam Dastyari‘s Senate seat, with Kristina Keneally expected to be endorsed by the ALP tomorrow.

Canberra: Australian Electoral Commission to release latest update on political donations, set to include full amount of Malcolm Turnbull’s donation to the Liberal Party just before the 2016 election.

Melbourne: The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters will hold the second in three days of public hearings on political donations and section 44 of the constitution.

Perth: Defence Minister Marise Payne begins two days of talks with counterparts from Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand and Indonesia.

Perth: CPSU/CSA, representing WA school support staff, will take industrial action in protest of the state government’s education cuts.

Sydney: Auditor-general will release a report on the performance of local councils across NSW.

Sydney: The Public Inquirer will report her findings from the inquiry into fund misuse within the NSW RSL.

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

How an Islamic fashion exhibition exposed the true Aussie spirit — Shakira Hussein:Mecca Laa Laa has a central place in the Faith, Fashion, Fusion exhibition that recently ended its Malaysian presentation after touring several Australian cities in the years since it first opened in 2012. This time, however, the national newspaper does not consider her to be an inspirational representation of Australian identity. Rather, it is outraged that DFAT, who sponsors the exhibition, is ‘spending taxpayers’ money pretending that Islamic dress is part of our cultural identity. It is not and never has been’.”

Could Scott Morrison’s refugee scheme amount to a criminal offence?Greg Barns: “The revelation that in 2013, when he was Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison asked ASIO to slow down security checks on asylum seekers applying for refugee status so they would miss a deadline allowing permanent residency in Australia, is unethical and immoral. But did his actions amount to a criminal offence or is there some civil action that could be brought against Morrison?”

A home for the weirdos: is the era of niche online satire publishing over? — Caleb Triscari: “In Australia, the millennial sense of humour has become distinguished by a sense of absurdity, evident in a flourishing, home-made meme culture and affinity for satire. Young political hacks showcase their talents on pages such as “ALP Spicy Meme Stash” and Twitter users like @pixelatedboat have attracted nearly 200,000 followers with content ranging from anti-humour comics, altered news headlines and memes that end up in the dictionary.”

THE COMMENTARIAT

Canberra must act to get Australian James Ricketson out of jail in CambodiaLindsay Murdoch (SMH): “Since Ricketson’s arrest, some advisers have urged him to remain quiet and deferential to his accusers and jailers in the hope that efforts behind the scenes could secure the dropping of the charge before the case goes to court… The other way for Ricketson to go was to scream from the rooftops to build public pressure on the Turnbull government to intervene as it did in the case of Australian journalist Peter Greste when he was jailed on trumped-up charges in Egypt.”

More embarrassment for CBA as culture report emerges — Richard Gluyas (The Australian $): “Commonwealth Bank’s week from hell is set to continue with the imminent release of the prudential regulator’s progress report on the bank’s culture, accountability and risk frameworks. The report, commissioned by APRA in August after a series of scandals culminated in the Austrac money-laundering debacle, is likely to be uploaded to the regulator’s website today.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

 

Peter Fray

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