Good morning, early birds. The PM has lashed Russia for the recent attack on a former spy. Plus, AWOL Border Force head Roman Quaedvlieg has been shown the door. It’s the news you need to know, with Chris Woods.


Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has described Russia’s alleged use of nerve gas on former spy ­Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Great Britain as both criminal and “a shocking ­infringement of UK sovereignty”.

According to The Australian ($), Turnbull yesterday both hit out against the chemical attack and praised the US’ role in Asia ahead of today’s ASEAN summit in Sydney. While he criticised the international incident as “consistent with Russia’s actions in the Ukraine, in Syria, in Crimea and in other parts of the world,” Turnbull would not be drawn on whether Australia would add to Canberra’s existing sanctions against the country. Russia, for its part, is expected to retaliate against Britain’s subsequent expulsion of 23 diplomats with similar sanctions.

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A nine-month, fully paid disciplinary investigation has ended with Border Force commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg sacked for allegedly helping his partner and junior staff member secure a job at Sydney Airport. 

According to The Guardian, the government confirmed yesterday afternoon that the Governor-General had fired Quaedvlieg per its advice, and listed a number of grounds for dismissal such as failing to disclose relationship status change and modifying policies to advantage a candidate for recruitment. Quaedvlieg has since put out a statement rejecting the review’s findings and is currently considering legal options so good, great — this very expensive mess isn’t even technically over.


Depression researchers have had to abandon a “promising” pilot trial into delivering the anaesthetic drug ketamine via nasal sprays after patients experienced psychotic-like effects and a temporary loss of fine motor skills.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that researchers at the Black Dog Institute and University of NSW hoped the trial would expand on the success of a US study by increasing the set dosage from 50mg of ketamine over five sprays to 100mg over 10. However they had to stop at five participants with severe depression, out of a hoped-for 10, when patients experienced high blood pressure, lack of coordination, and “unpleasant” psychotic-like effects.


“Nice guy, good-looking guy, comes in — ‘Donald we have no trade deficit.’ He’s very proud because everybody else, you know, we’re getting killed … So he’s proud. I said, ‘Wrong Justin, you do.’ I didn’t even know … I had no idea.”

— US President Donald Trump admits to flat-out lying to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in fundraising event audio obtained by The Washington Post, and, Christ, this all stopped being funny so long ago.


Australia is denying student visas, says Chinese government

Banks slugging loyal customers, says ACCC ($)

Labor forced to dial back on $59 billion hit to pensioners and retirees

Battle of the billionaires: Who has the biggest battery, Elon Musk or Sanjeev Gupta? ($)

Julia Gillard leads Sydney Writers line-up ($)

Platypus milk: unlikely weapon in fight against superbugs


Sydney: ASEAN Special Summit officially begins with a “Women in Business Breakfast” opened by Lucy Turnbull and Singaporean CEO/First Lady Ho Ching, followed by an Emerging Leaders Roundtable opened by Prime Minister Turnbull, a Singapore-Australia Annual Leaders’ Dialogue with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and trade, tourism, investment and counter-terrorism talks throughout the day.

Sydney: Protests against reported human rights abuses in Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, and the Philippines, scheduled for right outside that first event. Hong Lim, a Victorian Labor MP of Cambodian background, will speak.

Melbourne: Directions hearing for class action against 7/11 and ANZ; separately, the banks royal commission hearing continues.

Melbourne: Protests against Border Force’s early morning raid and attempted deportation of a Queensland family from asylum seeker background. Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam will speak.

Canberra: A Senate report into university funding reform legislation is due.

Melbourne: Voter enrolment closes for Melbourne Lord Mayor election.

Brisbane: The National 4×4 Outdoors Show, Fishing & Boating Expo.

Auckland: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to speak at traditional, youth performance festival Polyfest.

Around the World: World Sleep Day. 


Our authoritarian government has turned up the heat. But we can still fight backScott Ludlum (The Guardian): “There’s an old aphorism about the best way to boil a frog which holds that if that’s your thing, you sicko, you should turn the temperature up very, very slowly. Shock the frog with a sharp enough temperature increase and she’ll jump right out of the pot. Something similar applies, maybe, to the gentle stench of authoritarianism that now undeniably permeates Australian politics. Things that might have been unthinkable a decade or two ago are now becoming so routine as to be almost beneath comment.”

How to interrupt the pattern of sexual violenceClementine Ford (Sydney Morning Herald): “As Australia reckons with its own culture of abuse and harassment on university residential college campuses, the battle to target sexual assault perpetrated by and against students continues in America’s tertiary institutions. In a widely panned interview aired recently on 60 Minutes, the US Secretary for Education Betsy DeVos announced that ‘one sexual assault [on campus] is one too many, and one falsely accused individual is one too many.'”


Dutton fundamentally misunderstands the ‘plight’ of white farmers in South Africa — Greg Barns: “Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s sudden interest in the plight of white South African farmers is nothing more than an exercise in shoring up hard-right voters. It is clear from Dutton’s statements on the issue — of a recent move by the South African Parliament to recommend an amendment to that nation’s constitution to allow for expropriation of agricultural land without compensation — that he knows nothing about the complexity of the issue, or the fact that the prospects of it becoming a reality are far from certain.”

Media Adviser: a dummy’s guide to booking panels — Rebekah Holt:Media Adviser is a new advice column from journalist and psychotherapist Rebekah Holt that offers insight on recurring media dramas and their related ethical dilemmas. Q: I’m in charge of booking a TV panel tomorrow on a controversial topic, and haven’t quite locked everyone in. What’s the best way of going about that without having my show or the hosts at the centre of a national scandal?”

The Dutton Diagnosis: the obsession that’s become a national disorder — Helen Razer: “As I drank more, I would offer the inexpert opinion that authors of pieces on Trump as Madman were just lazy writers themselves suffering ‘cognitive dissonance’, which is a thing I heard about once on Radio National. That’s OK. We can pretend to be psychiatrists in private. It is reprehensible when those paid to offer political analysis in public make like shrinks.”



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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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