Christopher Pyne Peter Dutton section 44
(Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

PYNING FOR REVENGE

Defence Minister Christopher Pyne has allegedly threatened in secret to refer crossbench MP Kerryn Phelps and at least two Labor MPs to the High Court if parliament does the same to Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.

The New Daily reports that Pyne communicated the threat to crossbenchers last night following Julia Banks’ shock resignation from the Liberal Party, which has increased Labor’s chances of referring Dutton over government payments to his family’s childcare centre. Pyne, who had earlier said Banks needed to “face the consequences of her actions”, allegedly named other potential victims of section 44 as SA Labor MP Tony Zappia, who has questions relating to a fitness centre he founded in the 1970s ($), and WA Labor MP Mike Freelander for, like Phelps, his work as a doctor.

Both The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian ($) report similar threats. Neither Pyne nor Phelps have commented on the direct allegations.

FOLEY’S DEFO DOUBTS

Former NSW Labor leader Luke Foley has reportedly informed colleagues he will abandon threats to sue journalist Ashleigh Raper and the ABC for defamation, after allegations he sexually assaulted Raper at a 2016 Christmas event led to his resignation earlier this month.

The Australian ($) reports that Foley, who will leave parliament in March, is expected to announce the decision by the end of the year, weeks after a group of senior ALP figures ($) began calling on him to drop the potential lawsuit. While a link to the alleged decision is unconfirmed, Labor focus groups have unsurprisingly detected voter disgust over Foley’s handling of the allegations.

FRACK YES

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan has lifted a statewide moratorium on gas fracking in the Kimberley, Pilbara and midwest regions. McGowan promised that the temporary ban will only be lifted on current petroleum titles, that landowners and traditional owners will get veto rights, and royalties will help fund renewable energy projects.

According to WAToday, McGowan’s decision came with the results of a year-long inquiry into fracking that recommends new practices and technologies to manage environmental risks.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

First of all, the tear gas is a very minor form of the tear gas itself. It’s very safe.

Donald Trump

The US President alleges men, women and children seeking asylum at the US-Mexico border were only hit with a good type of tear gas, a claim almost immediately disproved by the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

Scott Morrison’s claim yesterday that a national integrity body is a ‘fringe issue’ should haunt him all the way to his political grave. The Prime Minister likes to deride issues he’s not comfortable with as emanating from the ‘Canberra bubble’, but dismissing Australians’ growing belief that the political system doesn’t work for them but for special interests is the ultimate example of a politician trapped inside a bubble, disconnected from reality.”

Latham, recently appointed NSW leader of One Nation, had accused Faruqi of “anti-white racism” in his online commentary show Mark Latham’s Outsiders. Latham suggested this contributed to Islamist terrorism. Faruqi sued in October last year, saying the comments portrayed him as knowingly assisting terrorists who want to kill Australians. Faruqi’s lawyers Maurice Blackburn put out a statement saying Latham’s bill, including costs and damages, could be in excess of $100,000.”

“For years, the so-called ‘most progressive government in Australia’ has presided over the steady decline of these areas of Melbourne, with unemployment heading towards 25% and beyond in areas such as Broadmeadows and Craigieburn. Local members are largely useless — Broadmeadows MLA Frank McGuire commuted from Brighton for a while, before being shamed into moving… to Fitzroy. And there’s no public industry policy plan in place to compensate for factory closures. Almost nothing has been done after fires at ‘recycling’ plants — waste dumps — bathed the area in toxic fumes.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Liberals cross the floor in SA mining vote

Sydney to collect a month’s rainfall in half a day as big low builds

New defence call-out laws pass parliament

Richard Di Natale suspended from Senate after calling Barry O’Sullivan a ‘pig’ over ‘sexist filth’

Jimmy Barnes calls for children to be removed from Nauru: ‘It’s not the Australian way’

‘Threat to kill’: Candidate makes complaint against Labor MP’s brother

Deepwater residents urged to leave home immediately to avoid bushfire threat

Tasmanian MP Adam Brooks tried to cover up mining emails, Integrity Commission report finds ($)

NRL rallies 200,000 fans to protest Labor’s stadium plans ($)

Plans to extend multimillion-dollar taxi class action to Queensland

THE COMMENTARIAT

Liberals need to give up on the merit myth — Shivani Gopal (Sydney Morning Herald):Julia Banks announced her decision to quit the Australian Liberal Party yesterday. While unfortunate, it is hardly surprising. It’s the result of what happens when parliament and politicians fail to represent the people they serve and cling to the myth of meritocracy. Banks is not buying it anymore and neither should the Australian people.”

Rethink negative-gearing scare campaign — Peter van Onselen (PerthNow): “The housing market here in WA has been weak for some time, but the Eastern States are only now starting to also feel the pinch. The new Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is leading the attacks. Based in Melbourne he sees first-hand the property jitters all around him. I recall being surprised that the last election didn’t see more focus on the Labor policy.”

In crime reporting, we should ask better questions about the relevance of religion and ethnicity — Denis Muller (The Conversation): “It is unfair to blame the media for reporting what the authorities say in the immediate aftermath of big breaking news stories. At that point, who knows what is relevant and what is not? At the same time, the media have an ethical obligation to at least question the authorities about the relevance of statements about ethnicity, religion or other personal attributes.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry will host their 2018 business leaders annual event, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison invited to deliver an address.

  • Labor senator Doug Cameron and Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi will speak at the launch of the November 2018 Rental Affordability Index.

  • RedBalloon founder Naomi Simson, Business Chicks CEO Olivia Ruello and Indigital founder & CEO Mikaela Jade will present “Enterprising Women — Building Australia’s army of female entrepreneurs” at the National Press Club.

  • Poet and tax lawyer Geoffrey Lehmann will launch his book Leeward: A Memoir with former High Court justice Michael Kirby at the Centre for Independent Studies.

  • Young women will protest image-based bullying and call on politicians to promote respectful relationships outside Parliament House.

Sydney

  • Keith Urban hosts the 2018 ARIA awards.

  • Labor Senator Kristina Keneally will speak in-conversation with former Prime Minister Julia Gillard at an ALP fundraiser.

  • Journalist Ellen Fanning will host the Women, Ageing & Disadvantage symposium.

Melbourne

  • AEMO chief executive Audrey Zibelman will deliver a keynote speech at CEDA’s “New directions for Australia’s energy system” forum.

  • ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott will appear at the banking royal commission, after AMP acting CEO Mike Wilkins finishes giving evidence.

  • The Australian Academy of Science will hold forum event “The Science of Sport: Women on and off the field” with local athletes and researchers.

  • Melbourne Airport will trial an Australia-first scanning system that will not require items to be removed from luggage.

Adelaide

  • Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Bruce Lander is expected to hand down his report into the operations of SafeWork SA.

  • Adelaide Airport will conduct an emergency exercise to test its emergency and communications procedures.

Perth

  • Noongar author Kim Scott will deliver keynote address “Only the Lure” to open the Australasian Association of Writing Programs’ three day national conference.

  • Associate Director of Research at ReputexEnergy Bret Harper will launch new report “Offsetting emissions from liquified natural gas projects in Western Australia”.

Picton, NSW

  • Labor, Liberal, Independent and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party candidates for the March 2019 state election will speak at a candidate’s forum (with retiring Wollondilly Liberal MP Jai Rowell not expected to appear).