JOYCE ACCUSED OF HARASSMENT

A week after his affair with a staff member was made public, Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has been accused of “pinching bums” in a series of texts, relating to a 2011 awards ceremony, that were sent to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s office in 2015.

Both The Sydney Morning Herald and Daily Telegraph ($) report that texts from John Clements, a former chief adviser to Joyce-rival and former Independent Tony Windsor, described the incident to Turnbull’s principal private secretary, Sally Cray, on December 30, 2015.

While the SMH has referred only to Clements and Cray’s discussion of Joyce’s “alleged misconduct” after a 2011 Rural Women’s Award dinner in Canberra, the woman in question has spoken directly to the Telegraph in accusations now publicly supported by Clements.

“I went over to the bar and he was very, very drunk and nearly falling over,” said the unnamed woman, who confronted Joyce over an interaction with a second woman at a pub. “I said ‘Barnaby, I think you should go home. You’re very drunk.’ He leant over and he pinched my bottom.”

A spokesperson for Joyce has denied the Telegraph’s report, alleging that Joyce did not attend a pub after the ceremony and that Clements’ role in the story should give everyone “pause for thought”. The second woman strongly denies that anything inappropriate took place in her initial encounter with Joyce. 

Clements has told the Telegraph he confronted Joyce after witnessing the woman “rattled” by the alleged incident, and in texts to Cray four years later referred to him as a “goose” “pinching bums”. Cray described the alleged behaviour as “unacceptable” but difficult to address as no complaint had been made.

SHORTEN PLEDGES INDIGENOUS VOICE

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has pledged to legislate for an Indigenous “advisory” voice to parliament ahead of a planned referendum on the issue.

The Australian ($) reports that, in his response to yesterday’s Closing The Gap report, Shorten said that a future Labor government would work with members of the Referendum Council to “begin the detailed design work” for their vision of an Indigenous body before a referendum. He hopes that “lived experience” would help dispel scare campaigns over the constitutionally enshrined voice — such as that based on the misconception that the voice would act as “third chamber” of parliament — and added that Labor would proceed with or without the Coalition on the issue.

“Bipartisanship does not mean an agreement to do nothing,” Shorten said, telling Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that, “we will work with but we won’t wait for you. We can close the gap — it is not too hard and it will be First Australians as ever who show us how”.

Shorten has used this policy issue to distinguish himself from Turnbull. Last year, the Prime Minister reject the Referendum Council’s recommendations, and yesterday spruiked economic prosperity — over structural reform — as a solution to Indigenous disadvantage. Shorten has also promised to set up a Stolen Generations compensation fund for ACT and NT survivors, who are currently unable to access state-based schemes. He has previously pledged support for the Uluru Statement’s secondary goal of a makarrata commission to oversee and enable treaty-making.

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

NSW/Qld/WA: Parliament returns for 2018.

Sydney: The Inner West Council meets to formally consider scrapping Australia Day celebrations, which would make it the first Sydney council to follow the Greens-led campaign to change the date.

Canberra: Labor Senator and foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong will give the keynote opening speech at Aid Conference at ANU.

Canberra: “Science meets parliament” event will include addresses from Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel, CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Minister for Innovation and Jobs Michaelia Cash.

Canberra: Australian Council of Social Services chief executive Cassandra Goldie to outline the community sector’s federal budget priorities.

Perth: The Country Women’s Association WA will rally for the first time in its 94-year history to protest education cuts that would shut rural residential colleges and school camps.

Melbourne: Federation Square Apple store debate between Fed Square CEO Jonathan Tribe and Councillor Rohan Leppert.

Adelaide: Women in Media SA election debate with Premier Jay Weatherill, SA-Best leader Nick Xenophon, Liberal leader Steven Marshall, Australian Conservatives MP Robert Brokenshire and Greens leader Mark Parnell.

Melbourne: Public inquiry into electric vehicles.

THE COMMENTARIAT

New laws needed to protect abortion clinic workers — Michelle Thompson (SMH): “Imagine going to work and being told by strangers you are going to hell. You have to push past people who tell you what you do is wrong, that you should be ashamed and that you’re doing the devil’s work. Your vehicle is regularly splashed by ‘holy water’ that mysteriously blisters the paint on your car, and you have graphic images shoved in your face as you enter your workplace.”

The Robert Doyle saga is a perfect case study for this messy #metoo momentGay Alcorn (The Guardian): “This is a case study in exactly where we are and how far we have to go. We are in the middle of a seismic cultural shift, and it will take time and involve much ugliness and pushback before we get there. Clichés are swirling around this case and all assumptions are being challenged but are stubborn to shift – all the reasons why women have been reluctant to make complaints publicly and the claims by men that their lives are being unfairly ruined.”

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

Ten years on, the promise of the Apology is a lie — Celeste Liddle: “Ten years ago, I gathered with many people from the local Indigenous community to view a live broadcast of the Apology at the Aborigines Advancement League. There was a lot of sorrow in the room but it was tempered by hope — the feeling that finally, after so long, a government had decided to do the right thing and work towards rectifying wrongs.”

Joyce has always been a dud and should never have been Deputy PM — Bernard Keane: “It was Tony Abbott who bestowed the appellation ‘best retail politician in the country’ on Barnaby Joyce. Even now, some continue to preface their comments about him by claiming he is possessed of some form of political genius. It is true that Joyce has been successful at the time-honoured Nationals tactic of demanding handouts for farmers despite a complete lack of policy rationale (beyond Joyce’s personal and, given recent events, now ironic vision of Australian agriculture as a rural idyll of white heterosexual families).”

Inside Labor’s impending factional collapse: The rise and rise of Adem SomyurekGuy Rundle: “Somyurek is no flabby grouper-hack of the old school. Smart, educated, he favours the Mediterranean style of grey cotton suits and open-necked white shirt, which these days make him look like a Green. But though he has a masters in public policy and is the shiny new Right, he first came to the public’s attention through old Right ways: getting pinged for driving without a licence in 2009, when Labor was drowning in scandals, as outer north and west branches controlled by the Right were being stacked wantonly, and a Labor government had to sack a Labor council in the area (Brimbank), a year before the election”

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Peter Fray

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