Pacific Islands Forum Nauru
National representatives at the 2017 Pacific Islands Forum (Image: Lukas Coch/AAP)

ALL EYES ON NAURU

News that at least 20 children detained on Nauru are on “food and fluid refusal”, along with others suffering resignation syndrome is speculated to dominate discussion at today’s meeting with the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru.

The Guardian reports that representatives from 18 Pacific nations are under pressure from Amnesty International and dozens of other groups to discuss Australia’s offshore-detention regime at the four-day event, along with planned talks on climate change and China’s growing influence. Nauru has demolished detainees’ tents in the build-up to today’s events and, in comments slammed by human rights groups, President Baron Waqa has pinned the childhood epidemic on advocates and parents.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will not attend the forum, instead sending new Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has expressed a desire to meet with detained families during the summit.

MAL’S “HERO” GRANT

The Australian ($) reports that the Turnbull government’s controversial $444 million grant to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation was more than double the recommended amount and was delivered as a single payment, against official Finance Department advice. 

The Finance Department reportedly recommended that $200 million be allocated over six years to help protect the Great Barrier Reef. Senior government sources have also alleged that the decision to gift the money to a non-government organisation as a lump sum was taken to make the administration “look like heroes” without impacting a future projected surplus.

THE GREAT HONEY STING

Australia’s biggest listed honey company Capilano and supermarket chains such as IGA and ALDI face accusations of selling fake honey beefed up with foreign substances.

A joint Fairfax-ABC investigation reports that testing from a German lab specialising in honey fraud has found that almost half of samples from Australian supermarkets came up as “adulterated”, meaning they had been mixed with rice syrup, beet syrup, and/or other substances. Capilano, which had the majority of its Allowrie branded Mixed Blossom Honey turn up as “adulterated” in samples tested, has strongly denied any issues with its products and criticised the lab’s system of testing to detect impurities.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

The ministerial intervention system is a good feature of the system, which gives it flexibility. In [Dutton’s] case, I’ve seen the decisions that were taken and those decisions were all completely consistent with how that power should be exercised. And that’s, frankly, the end of the matter.

Scott Morrison

Australia’s current Prime Minister decides we should all stop worrying about the Home Affairs Minister’s fairly extreme discretionary powers.

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

“How apt it was that new Energy Minister Angus Taylor spent half an hour hiding from the media yesterday after his first speech, sequestered from scrutiny and questions. It used to be that ministers gave speeches, then took questions and the media reported what was said. Now the speech is dropped to newspapers ahead of time, it is perfunctorily delivered and the minister hides from journalists afterwards. A truly efficient process would involve the minister not bothering to deliver the speech at all.”

“Liberal MP for Chisholm Julia Banks’ resignation citing bullying and intimidation this week has set off a domino effect: mostly of people denying the problem or telling her to suck it up. Her statement echoed the likes of Linda Reynolds who said she did not recognise her party, its values and ‘the bullying and intimidation that has gone on’ in the leadership spill push by Peter Dutton and his conservative camp, not to mention commentary suggesting Julie Bishop was hard done by.”

“There wasn’t a lot to offer at Mudgee Airport. As I sat with an hour to wait, staring down a plane smaller than me, I was searching for any kind of distraction. This marks the moment I first saw Channel Seven’s new series Dance Boss, and also the moment I no longer feared flying or death in general.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

‘Winning the lottery’: Australian ministers waved through dozens of visitor visas

‘A circus’: alarming safety incidents in Juvenile Justice

City council considers legal action on Telstra payphone loophole

Commissioner focused on Territory’s elders ($)

State Budget 2018: $60m for Aboriginal Art and Cultures Gallery on site of old RAH ($)

‘Want to poke the bear? Go ahead’, Katter warns over staff cuts

Labor plan for gas export controls as prices rise

Turnbull’s last ditch $7.6b bid to buy election win ($)

Chelsea Manning, banned from Australia, continues with speaking tour via video link

US ends aid to Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA

THE COMMENTARIAT

The ABS is under an Owellian ‘efficiency’ siegeRoss Gittins (Sydney Morning Herald): “You don’t have to be very bright to see that as we enter the information age, realise decisions need to be evidence-based, and glimpse the huge potential of ‘big data’, we need the Australian Bureau of Statistics to be at the top of its game. But you do have to be brighter than our econocrats and politicians.”

Marxism is back in vogue – all red flags and charging bulls ($) — Nick Cater (The Australian): “Despite 27 years of economic growth, the intellectual Left ­remains convinced that capitalism is evil after all, that the poor are getting poorer and the fat cats are lapping all the cream. Empirical evidence, such as that in last week’s Productivity Commission report, is as good as useless at destroying the dogma.”

The true key to my success in science — Elizabeth New (Sydney Morning Herald): “The lack of women in leading positions of scientific research, particularly at more senior levels, is a much-discussed topic. There is a baffling exodus of women at crucial career stages. Data from the Federal Department of Education and Training in 2014 showed a clear majority of female undergraduate students in the Natural and Physical Sciences in Australia. At PhD level, there was parity between men and women. From this point the number of women drops right off through the career ladder.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Sydney

  • Day three of NSW budget estimates will hear from Minister for Finance, Services and Property Victor Dominello; Minister for ​Lands and Forestry, and Racing Paul Toole; and ​Treasurer and Minister for Industrial Relations Dominic Perrottet.

  • Transport Workers Union NSW bus drivers will take industrial action.

  • A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-130J Hercules will conduct a flypast of Martin Place as part of activities to mark Legacy Week 2018.

Brisbane

  • Labor leader Bill Shorten will address media outside Incitec Pivot.

Perth

  • Day one of the three-day WA Tourism Conference, with Labor MP Anthony Albanese set to attend Wednesday.

  • The WA Local Government Association and LGIS will hold a breakfast discussing building cladding issues faced in WA following the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017. British insurance executive Ray Chitty will speak on the in-house insurance response to the event, while lawyer Matthew Reid will present a recent building cladding report commissioned by LGIS and WALGA.

Adelaide

  • Federal parliament’s defence sub-committee will conduct a public hearing into transition from the ADF.

  • UKIP leader Nigel Farage will present as part of his speaking tour of Australia.

  • Four-week army training exercise Predator’s Run will begin at the Cultana Training area near Port Augusta.

Melbourne

  • A petition for a new hospital at Swan Hill is expected to be handed to Victoria’s Nationals leader Peter Walsh and tabled in the lower house.

  • Melbourne Fashion Week will hold its opening Town Hall Runway.

Canberra

  • Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove will officially launch the first Australian coins to bear the new portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.

Darwin

  • Illuminate Education will launch a week-long entrepreneurial program for secondary students.

Ballarat, Victoria

  • Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford will announce a yabby net swap program to replace opera house nets.

Launceston, Tasmania

  • In the lead-up to White Balloon Day, Bravehearts’ lion mascot Ditto will launch Child Protection Week.

Australia

  • Today marks the first weekday of (deep breath) Dementia Awareness Month, National Blood Donor Week, Legacy Week, Women’s Health Week, and Child Protection Week.

  • The Australian Bureau of Statistics will release data on alcohol consumption in Australia between 2016-17.

Nauru

  • Day one of the four-day Pacific Islands Forum, with representatives from 18 nations including New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expected to attend.