The Australian Parliament has passed unprecedented encryption-busting surveillance powers after Labor leader Bill Shorten caved to pressure on national security concerns and a rushed voting schedule, engineered by the Coalition to avoid a defeat over medical transfers in offshore detention.
The Guardian reports that Labor passed the Assistance and Access Bill — voting against its own amendments — in the Senate late last night, while filibustering by Coalition senators, Cory Bernardi and Pauline Hanson helped stop offshore transfer legislation from moving to the House of Representatives. Labor will aim to retroactively add encryption safeguards when Parliament resumes next February. However, the legislation as it stands means Australia now has the worst encryption rights in the Western world.
The Coalition has stacked the Fair Work Commission with six new deputy presidents from employer backgrounds, despite advice from tribunal president Iain Ross the commission required only one additional appointment to replace a forthcoming retirement.
According to The Australian ($), Jobs and Industrial Relations Minister Kelly O’Dwyer has appointed deputies from workplace backgrounds at groups such as the Australian Mines and Metals Association, and the National Electrical and Contractors Association, meaning that the workplace umpire now contains a majority of Coalition-backed employer-linked appointees.
Malcolm Turnbull has at long last campaigned with Wentworth replacement Dave Sharma, two months after the former prime minister opted out of appearing at the crucial byelection.
But while The Australian ($) reports that Turnbull’s appearance with Sharma at a Christmas party constitutes a much-overdue endorsement, The Daily Telegraph ($) reports that Turnbull declined to answer whether he would endorse Sharma ahead of his second battle with Dr Kerryn Phelps at the 2019 federal election.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
Labor has chosen to allow terrorists and paedophiles to continue their evil work in order to engage in point scoring. #auspol
While the Defence Minister has since deleted a tweet sent out during the 2018 valedictory speeches, the internet never forgets.
CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY
“Do you still tell yourselves that you’re better than them? That you’re more prepared to protect Australians’ basic rights? That you’re ready to play the role of a proper opposition in stopping bad law? And if you do tell yourselves that, do you really believe it? Can you look in the mirror and convince yourself it’s true? Or do you just mutter it to yourselves over and over while lining up to vote with the government?”
“Thousands of migrants began walking from Central America, through Mexico, in the so called “migrant caravan”, in a quest to gain safety and security in the US. Their journey soon became a flashpoint. They were welcomed and accommodated in tiny pueblos (towns) like Santiago Niltepec in Oaxaca state and in the megalopolis of Mexico City, and verbally abused and tear-gassed in Tijuana. Without knowing it, their story, exploited by Donald Trump before the November mid-terms powerfully demonstrates the tensions, failures, and potential of current global migration policy.”
“Earlier this week Prime Minister Scott Morrison called a late-night party room meeting to talk about leadership spills. It wasn’t that Morrison had decided to save us all a lot of time by stepping down and letting the cabinet fight, Death of Stalin style, for his suddenly vacant seat — quite the opposite. The rule changes shore up his position, by making it harder to knife a sitting prime minister.”
THIS WEEK FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES
See Australia from a new, global perspective. Sign up for the weekly Australia Letter newsletter from The New York Times here.
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Morrison may not have lost the vote, but his prime ministerial authority is waning — Katharine Murphy (The Guardian): “Scott Morrison made it clear when he walked into the Blue Room mid-morning on the last sitting day of the parliament, and hung a lantern over his own political crisis, that there was one thing that had to be avoided at all costs, and that was losing a vote on the floor of the House.”
ALP plays politics over security ($) — Scott Morrison (The Australian): “There are moments that shake countries. They are so indelible you can remember where you were when you heard of them. In my lifetime, it was September 11 and later Bali. They appear to come out of the blue, but they don’t. Those moments were meticulously planned by those who seek to do us harm.”
Tony Abbott and the White Man’s Burden — Luke Pearson (IndigenousX): “The truth is terribly inconvenient for those that seek to cement their status as white saviours. For Tony Abbott though, these thoughts simply do not merit any consideration or reflection. Punishment is a perfectly appropriate form of social control and behavioural change, even if it has little chance of success.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
State Liberal MP Kevin Conolly will speak on “The protection of religious freedom” at St John’s Anglican Church.
Overland and the National Union of Workers will host end-of-year debate “’Will robots bring us utopia?” with Safe Schools Coalition Victoria’s Roz Ward, journalist and activist Jack Latimore, lawyer and commentator Josh Bornstein, and other software developers, lawyers and writers.
Starts at 60 founder Rebecca Wilson will deliver a keynote as part of UQ’s ilab upcoming start-up program Germinate.
A protest will be held against an event being held in Perth by alt-right leader and Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes’ and co-founder of the English Defence League Tommy Robinson.