ROMAN HOLIDAY

The head of the Australian Border Force Roman Quaedvlieg will have his future decided by Attorney-General Christian Porter.

Quaedvlieg took leave in May last year with an investigation probing a Border Force job given to his girlfriend at Sydney Airport. In Senate estimates hearings yesterday it was confirmed he has since been paid $500,000 to not come to work. Quaedvlieg told The Australian yesterday ($) the length of the investigation had been “extraordinary” and confirmed he would return to the role.

A report by the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity was completed in the third quarter of last year with Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary Martin Parkinson then writing a follow-up report on whether Quaedvlieg should be dismissed. That report has been seen by Quaedvlieg who responded on January 17. The wait goes on.

With tough questions facing immigration officials in estimates, it is absolutely no doubt a coincidence that Home Affairs secretary Michael Pezzullo has popped up in The Daily Telegraph today to outline a vague new plan to screen immigrants for Australian Values™. Analysts will reportedly dig into whether a migrant is likely to support free speech, gender equality, and freedom of religion — concepts the current government, for one, certainly holds dear.

“Some of the responses have been ‘look this is really just a surreptitious way to kind of exclude non-Anglo people or non-white people’,” Pezzullo told the paper. “It’s not.”

THEY LIKE MIKE?

The relatively painless transition to a new deputy prime minister hasn’t ended the internal angst in the National Party, with Fairfax sketching the ongoing internal distrust left in the wake of the leaking of a sexual harassment complaint against Barnaby Joyce.

Joyce was visited by the party’s national president Larry Anthony days before Joyce’s resignation to inform him of the complaint, which Joyce reportedly saw as a none-too-subtle hint he should quit.

Yesterday, estimates heard that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull commissioned a department report into Joyce’s conduct only to backflip and cancel it after Joyce stepped down.

It leaves new DPM Michael McCormack in a tough spot. The Australian predicts ($) he’ll keep would-be rival David Littleproud in the fold and act as a “team player”. The question picked over by most of the country’s op-ed writers today: is that really the game everyone else on his team will be playing?

THE HERO WE DESERVE

US President Donald Trump says he would have bolted in to save the day, had he only been on site during the recent mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.

In the wake of the shooting, which left 17 people dead, focus has shifted to the action of local law enforcement. In the country’s conservative media, the push for gun control has been countered by talking points about police officers, as well as alleged inaction from the FBI.

“I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon,” Trump said overnight.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT

“I’m afraid this is what happens when the lash is abolished. The jigaboo runs riot and out of control. The ‘boo needs the lash. The ‘boo wants the lash. Deep, deep down the ‘boo knows the lash provides the governance and stability.”

That was one of a number of racist comments made by Victoria’s Assistant Commissioner Brett Guerin, a top cop in the state who has now resigned after a Fairfax investigation. The comments were left online under a pseudonym.

THE NUMBER TO REMEMBER: 26,000

That’s how many people have enrolled in the federal seat of Batman over the last 18 months.

As John Ferguson writes ($) in The Australian today, it means that 20% of those who will vote in the March 17 byelection were not enrolled in the seat during the 2016 election. The influx of younger voters is expected to assist the Greens.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

‘Really extreme’ global weather event leaves scientists aghast

Spike in urchin numbers sparks talk of Tasmanian reef disaster ($)

Katy Gallagher did not do enough to renounce UK citizenship, high court hears

Seoul says U.S., North Korea should lower threshold for talks

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra: Australia Post, the ABC, and the NBN Co all go before estimates. 

Adelaide: South Australian party leaders Jay Weatherill, Steven Marshall, and Nick Xenophon all face off once again, this time to debate social policy.

Wellington: New Zealand’s conservative National Party will vote to elect a new leader. 

THE COMMENTARIAT

Will the Nationals ever learn? — Laura Tingle (Australian Financial Review $): “What sort of nincompoops must you be to not understand the essential messages that come out of the events of the last few weeks as far as voters are concerned? That is, that the public doesn’t tolerate self-indulgence, and wants politicians to focus on the job at hand, not self-interest.”

There are no quick fixes for new Nationals leader Michael McCormack — Rob Harris (Herald Sun $): “Christensen and his continued threats to quit the party and the government are McCormack’s problem now. Joyce was able to keep him in the tent but you would have to wonder if the new leader will bother to try.”

McCormack’s rise shows paucity of talent within politics — Dennis Shanahan (The Australian $): “Joyce’s move yesterday from the frontbench to the cockies’ corner of the Nationals backbench in the House of Representatives is just another bleeding of political talent and experience from the Coalition and the body politic.”

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

Nats tap McCormack to warm seat for Joyce — Bernard Keane: “To be in any way credible — and to give an undertalented government some greater ministerial firepower — McCormack needs to ensure Darren Chester is brought back, although he has taken Chester’s former portfolio.”

Is Van Badham running for office? — Guy Rundle: “Brunswick is firmly controlled by the Socialist Left (SL), against which the Industrial Left is now aligned. Sources in both camps told Crikey there was a move on to persuade Badham — a former National Union of Students politician out of Wollongong, before she became a writer — to stand.”

Dutton’s department leaves vital medical positions vacant — Max Chalmers: “Those who once lobbied Brayley, and some who have known him for several years, told Crikey they can only guess why he resigned. As it turns out, however, they all have exactly the same guess. ‘He’s a nice guy,’ Dr Nick Martin said. “He was in an impossible position.””

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.

 

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW