Trump Turnbull

CHINESE CHECKS

China’s strategic expansion and North Korea’s weapons program are set to feature as Malcolm Turnbull meets with US defence officials and President Donald Trump this week.

Turnbull’s brief US tour culminates in a meeting with Trump at the end of the week, a conversation the Australian leader will be hoping doesn’t end up transcribed in the pages of The Washington Post. Turnbull is travelling with a posse of business bigwigs and state premiers who are likely to focus on infrastructure issues.

But The Australian today reports ($) that China will be at the centre of discussions between Turnbull and US Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and National Security Agency head Mike Rogers. The US intelligence establishment, including Coats, have become increasingly vocal in their opposition to China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

Earlier, The Australian Financial Review reported ($) that Australia is discussing developing an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative with the US, Japan, and India. While the US is deeply anxious about China’s massive international infrastructure initiative, the British government is cautiously suggesting Australia take a role in the program ($), arguing it could help prevent it from becoming a way for China to exert more control over neighbours.

DOPE FIND

Australia is in the grips of two very different doping scandals, with News Corp papers today revealing text messages ($) that reportedly show evidence of horse doping at major Australian races.

The Herald Sun reports that events including the Melbourne Cup may have been targeted by trainers and stable staff injecting animals with the performance-enhancing substance sodium bicarbonate. Eight people have now been charged over the alleged doping.

The story comes as concerns about human doping return to the national stage, with the daughter of former Olympian and ex-senator Nova Peris forced to withdraw from her bid to represent Australia at the Commonwealth Games after testing positive to a banned substance.

Jessica Peris has hit back ($) at the results, hiring lawyers and accusing Australia’s anti-doping body of “substantial flaws” in its urine testing. She denies she used performance-enhancing drugs.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

‘It’s not a war. It’s a massacre’: scores killed in Syrian enclave

Queensland nursing home deaths spark police inquiries ($)

‘Bizarre’: NSW government urged costly buyback of Darling River water

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Sydney: Musician Kirin J Callinan to appear in court after exposing himself to photographers on the ARIA red carpet last year.

Sydney: State funeral for Sir Nicholas Michael Shehadie, former lord mayor of Sydney and rugby union international.

Perth: Wesfarmers releases half-year results.

Launceston: World Vision’s Tim Costello to speak on the Tasmanian election and the issue of poker machine reform.

Canberra: The IMF will release its final assessment of Australia’s economic position for 2017.

Canberra: Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton speaks at the National Press Club. He will announce ($) an effort to toughen the government’s powers to strip citizenship from dual-nationals accused of terrorism. 

Adelaide: South Australian party leaders Jay Weatherill, Steven Marshall, and Nick Xenophon to debate at a CEDA forum.

THE COMMENTARIAT

Barnaby Joyce and the crisis of conservatism in Australia — Paul Kelly (The Australian $): “The idea this is a temporary embarrassment is tempting but false. The Nationals almost certainly face a lose-lose scenario. And that means the bigger losers will be the Liberals as their governing partners.”

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

Which one of Barnaby’s ticking time bombs will claim him first? — Crikey: “Joyce yesterday accused Turnbull, his office and other Liberals of leaking against him (and Joyce’s allies have warned that two can play that game). If the Liberals really want to get rid of Joyce, ongoing leaking is the most likely way they’ll do it. The Paul Grimes scandal, the collapse of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and the criminal behaviour of irrigators, the 2017 reshuffle Joyce used to go after his internal rivals, the ridiculous transfer of a government agency to his own electorate — there’s plenty of ammunition for his Liberal enemies to fire at him.”

Journalism is not a crime! Except, you know, when WikiLeaks does it. — Helen Razer: “When Assange sought to have the UK warrant for his arrest withdrawn — itself the remnant of the investigation Sweden sought to drop in 2013 and did drop — it was heard by Judge Emma Arbuthnot, wife of Lord Arbuthnot; a Tory Peer and a former subject of WikiLeaks’ journalism.”

Strange bedfellows as Syrian government moves to support US-backed fighters — Damien Kingsbury: “As the US recently learned, taking sides in the Syrian civil war can have consequences beyond its borders, in this case putting into doubt Turkey’s commitment to NATO as its southern bulwark against Russia. So, too, Russia is learning that the Assad regime welcomes its critically necessary support but not at the expense of allowing Turkey to occupy part of the Syrian state.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

Peter Fray

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