US VOTERS HEAD TO THE POLLS

US voters will today decide all 435 seats in the US House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 seats in the Senate at the mid-term elections.

The Australian ($) reports that polling puts the Democrats ahead in the house with the Republicans set to regain the Senate, although any predictions would be imprecise even if this wasn’t a non-compulsory, Tuesday election. A Democrat win could bring new investigations of Donald Trump, even an impeachment vote, or, according to Kevin Rudd at the AFR ($), see Trump ramp up a more “extreme” China trade war and nationalistic foreign policy. 

The news follows final day rallies with Donald Trump and Barack Obama, with key topics remaining gun control, healthcare and Trump’s decision to send 5,000 armed troops to meet a “caravan” of people seeking asylum at the Mexican border. The first polling stations open on the east coast at 11pm AEST.

2019 SPLIT ELECTION A POSSIBILITY

In a nice bit of synchronicity, Liberal MPs are reportedly considering a plan to split next year’s Senate and House of Representatives elections as a way of stalling for time and regaining lost support.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that, while elections for each house have been synchronised since the early 1970s and a May 2019 joint-election still appears the most likely scenario, a number of MPs are open to the idea of holding elections for the half-Senate election by May 19 and delaying the House poll for a few months, with the final date November 2.

The news comes as Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne talks up thawing China-Australia relations ahead of a Beijing forum; Liberal MP Chris Crewther faces potential Section 44 referral from Bob Katter and newly-declared Wentworth winner Kerryn Phelps, who is also seeking advice on Peter Dutton; and Prime Minister Scott Morrison drives around Queensland in a big bus (which, according to Fairfax, he also mostly flies ahead of).

RUNAWAY TRAIN FORCIBLY DERAILED

A runaway iron ore train has been forcibly derailed after travelling 92km in Western Australia without a driver.

The Australian ($) reports that BHP has confirmed no one was injured as part of the derailment, which came about after the driver left to check a wagon issue on the Newman to Port Hedland rail line. The company has begun an investigation into the incident, and has now suspended all WA iron ore operations.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

This is me doing what I do. I’m out, I’m listening, I’m hearing and I’m doing. That’s what I’m doing as a Prime Minister.

Scott Morrison

Scott Morrison gives an all-time answer when asked if the Queensland tour amounts to an election campaign.

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

“No, it goes further. Like how the Jerusalem embassy move was an exemplar of that magnificent Australian expression, half-arsed. Like how it represented our reflexive urge to ape America, a reflex that tags us not so much as ‘deputy sheriff’ – our vaulting ambition a decade ago — as Bully Sidekick Three in small-print B-movie credits. Like how it represented an instinctive comfort with punching down, not up, to show off to our bigger, more brutal mates.”

“The Sky after dark positioning in the outrage-economy took a tumble late last week, when newly appointed CEO Paul ‘Boris’ Whittaker sacked Outsiders co-host Ross Cameron over on-air comments depicting Chinese people in racist caricatures. It was Whittaker’s first major decision since he was appointed CEO last month and may indicate that News Corp is reassessing the financial limits of outrage — particularly racialised outrage.”

“Australia accounts for 20% of Serco Group’s profit, and last year, the ‘high-risk’ UK outsourcer won a $1.5 billion, 20-year contract to operate the planned Grafton mega-jail. In August, the Queensland government announced that male inmates at the Serco-run Southern Queensland Correctional Centre (SQCC) would be rehomed to make room for female prisoners. With a current population of 267, the SQCC is Serco’s first women’s prison anywhere in the world.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Ban Ki-moon “deeply concerned” by rise in xenophobia, nationalism

Sacked soldiers’ violent fantasies ($)

Port Pirie Mayor John Rohde found guilty of misconduct, maladministration over trips to Philippines where he met up with online girlfriend ($)

Rugby kept its own cricket-style cultural review secret in 2015

Gattellari says Medich was trying to ‘buy his way out’

Thirty-three illegal betting sites pull out of Australia

Man dies after shark attack near Cid Harbour in North Queensland

Port bottlenecks threaten $2.8 billion of Queensland coal shipments to India’s Tata Steel ($)

Government experts say plan to prevent animal extinctions is failing

Jamal Khashoggi: Saudi investigators worked to remove evidence of murder, Turkey says

Donald Trump’s response after mass shooting left mayor in disbelief

THE COMMENTARIAT

What we owe to the refugees on Manus — Anne McNevin (Inside Story): “In recent months, the groundswell of support for the children on Nauru who have entered a kind of catatonia has focused attention on whether refugees are owed, at a minimum, life-preserving care. That the debate has come to this — to the question of whether life-preserving care is owed, tells us something disturbing about baseline commitments to rights and freedoms among Australians.”

Marise Payne’s China trip good news, for now ($) — Greg Sheridan (The Australian):Marise Payne’s visit to China this week — the first by an Australian foreign minister in almost three years — is a sign Beijing wants a thaw in the official relationship. It is, paradoxically, also a sign of how well the Morrison, Turnbull and Abbott governments have managed the extremely challenging relationship with Beijing.”

Gagged: A brazen attack on Parliament and the public interest — Richard Mulgan (Sydney Morning Herald): “Attorney-General Christian Porter’s decision to suppress information in an Auditor-General’s report on defence equipment marks a brazen and dangerous attack on the executive’s accountability to Parliament and the public. Whether the decision is the result of government arrogance or capitulation to a powerful defence contractor remains unclear. Perhaps both motives are present. At any rate, the precedent should not be allowed to stand.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Melbourne

  • Melbourne Cup Day. Hundreds of separate events, including more “Nup to the Cup” protests, will be held throughout the country.

Sydney

  • NSW Opposition leader Luke Foley will outline Labor’s vision for the state ahead of the March 2019 state election in a speech at the Centre for Independent Studies.

  • 2018 Australian of the Year and quantum physicist Michelle Simmons will launch anthology series The Best Australian Science Writing 2018 and announce the the 2018 Bragg UNSW Press Prize for Science Writing.

Adelaide

  • South Australian Premier Steven Marshall and Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone will open the Drought Breakers concert.

Brisbane

  • The State Library of Queensland will host The Long Tail of War Symposium, an exploration of the end of WWI held as part of the Q ANZAC 100: Memories for a New Generation program.

Darwin

  • The annual Darwin Frog Races will be held to coincide with Melbourne Cup Day.

Queensland

  • Parts of Queensland are on heatwave alert as temperatures in the state’s south hit exceed 43 degrees.

Australia

  • The RBA will announce a rate decision.

USA

  • The congressional mid-term election for all 435 seats in the US House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 seats in the Senate will be held Tuesday (local time).