Opposition leader Bill Shorten will today receive a briefing from Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo on Kerryn Phelps’ medical transfer legislation, amid increased signals that Labor will create news amendments to ensure the Home Affairs’ minister retains ultimate discretion.

The Age reports that independent MPs, along with medical and legal professionals, are calling on Labor to hold firm on amendments already passed in the senate when parliament resumes tomorrow. The Australian ($) reports that Labor’s left and right factions will argue over whether to keep the original legislation or to ditch the proposal altogether. Following claims from Coalition ministers that relaxed medical evacuation rules would result in all detainees being sent to Australia, Scott Morrison will address Phelps’ bill at the National Press Club today.


NSW Liberal power broker Michael Photios’ lobbying firm Premier State has for the first time joined the Federal Labor Business Forum. In an apparent nod to a likely Shorten government, it has spent $22,000 this year to attend Labor functions.

The Australian ($) reports that Photios, a former NSW Liberal minister and former head of the NSW party’s “moderate” faction, last year hired ex-Labor staffer Sabina Husic to attend ALP fundraisers for Premier State. His former partner, Liberal powerbroker Nick Campbell, has similarly confirmed that his own firm, Nexus, has joined the forum and donated to the ALP.


The Morrison government reportedly flew Liberal backbencher Ann Sudmalis back from the United States in secret last year for fear of a historic loss in Parliament.

The ABC reports that Liberal strategists, who were then fearing Labor would withdraw a pair during Peter Dutton’s sick leave and bring down the government, paid for Sudmalis to leave her three-month delegation to the United Nations and wait out the final four sitting days of parliament in secret. With her vote ultimately not required, she left quietly and would not have been noticed by Labor at all if opposition MPs had not spied her in an adjacent chamber room.


These people just can’t help themselves. They are all negative. They don’t know what they’re for, but by God, they know what they’re against.

Tony Abbott

The famously positive former prime minister hits out at some independent, and potentially very popular, rivals for Warringah.


Finally, some rare sense in the battle to save Hakeem

“In 2018, Australian divers and doctors helped save a team of young Thai soccer players and their coach from certain death. Now Thailand’s Prime Minister will not — at least not yet — make a simple intervention to help Bahraini refugee Hakeem al-Araibi from certain torture and mistreatment.”

Who will be the next ABC chair?

“Almost five months since Justin Milne spectacularly resigned as ABC chair, his replacement is now just weeks away from being announced. Since he resigned, media commentators have been speculating on who Prime Minister Scott Morrison will appoint to clean up the mess left after Milne and former managing director Michelle Guthrie’s explosive fallout.”

Peter Dutton makes early play for 2019’s Arsehat of the Year

“It’s telling that the government’s announcements about getting children off the island prison on Nauru — economical with the truth as they are — barely feature Dutton, and have been outsourced initially to Australia’s high commissioner in London (and Dutton bête noire) George Brandis and Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Dutton deals only in attack, denigration and fear. Positive announcements have to be kept away from him.”


Christopher Pyne delivers damning verdict on the state of Australian politics

Billionaire political donor Huang Xiangmo appeals cancellation of permanent visa in Australia ($)

Australian government works with Huawei despite 5G ban

Premier announces no-interest loan scheme to boost solar power

Key adviser to independent Zali Steggall gets advice from activist group GetUp! ($)

Coalition warned its energy ‘big stick’ could scare away genuine investors

Anger builds as more details of how JM Kelly subcontractors were short-changed ($)

‘Sensible’ Labor would bring cheaper NBN to telcos and customers

Coal bites the dust in Germany, Europe’s greenest nation

Prince Philip surrenders driving licence after smash


Pivotal moments to shape election contest ($) — Simon Benson (The Australian):Shorten’s strategy is simple. Labor will seek to deal with the medivac bill by tomorrow afternoon and rid itself of the issue. He does not want to get trapped in an extended debate over boats. One way out for Shorten will be to draft amendments to those sneakily attached to a Home ­Affairs housekeeping bill by the Greens and independent Tim Storer in the Senate last year.”

MP Tim Wilson’s position is untenableEditorial (The Age): “The pre-eminent principle that positions of public office are positions of public trust has been trashed by Mr Wilson’s misuse of a key parliamentary committee to pursue a political agenda. That agenda involves agitating against the ALP’s policy of ending cash refunds on some company dividends paid to investors who have engineered their finances to produce zero taxable income.”

Terrorism is rare, but intimate partner violence is an everyday eventJane Gilmore (Daily Life/Sydney Morning Herald): “Given that over 23 million people pass through Brisbane airport each year, it’s entirely reasonable for police to reassure the public that they weren’t in danger at the airport that day; but the language they used, which was reported in every major news outlet in the country, is very telling. Domestic violence is not a threat. Terrorism is.”


The Latest Headlines



  • Scott Morrison will speak on Kerryn Phelps’ medivac legislation at the National Press Club ahead of parliament resuming tomorrow.

  • Director General of the food think-tank IFPRI Dr Shenggen Fan is will deliver “Is the world food system broken?” at the National Press Club.

  • Federal MPs are expected to attend an Australian War Memorial last post ceremony.


  • Day one of the Royal Commission into Aged Care, to run hearings in Adelaide until Friday February 22.

  • South Australian Environment and Water Minister David Speirs and SA Chief Entrepreneur Jim Whalley will speak on University of Adelaide panel “The problem is the opportunity: Increasing profits through sustainability”, along with academic and property representatives.


  • Day one of the Australian Workers’ Union’s Federal Court case against the Registered Organisations Commission and others after Michaelia Cash’s office leaked plans for an AFP raid to media in late 2017. Senator Cash is scheduled to appear sometime this week.

  • The Asian Executive will host the 2019 Lunar New Year Corporate Dinner Forum, with guests including Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas, Planning and Multicultural Affairs Minister Richard Wynne, Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp, Labor candidate for the federal seat of Chisholm Jennifer Yang, and ABC broadcaster

     Barrie Cassidy.


  • ICAC will begin an inquiry into allegations that contract security providers at the University of Sydney obtained dishonest financial benefits from fraudulent daily time sheets.

  • NSW Minister for Early Childhood Sarah Mitchell and Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Kate Washington will speak at a NSW Children’s Services Forum.

  • Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chair Rod Sims will speak on the preliminary “ACCC Digital Platforms Inquiry Report” at an industry seminar.

  • The national workplace sexual harassment inquiry will conduct Sydney consultations.


  • Day one of the five-day Women in Leadership NT Summit, to feature representatives from NT’s health, military, and tourism industries amongst others.


  • The John Curtin Gallery will launch a new exhibition, Refuge, as part of the 2019 Perth Festival. The festival, launched last Friday, will run until Sunday March 3.


  • Final day of the Royal Hobart Regatta.

Ballarat, Victoria

  • Victoria’s Training Minister Gayle Tierney will launch free TAFE at Federation University.