Peter Dutton national security

PALADIDN’T SEE NOTHIN’

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has distanced himself from embattled Manus Island security contractor Paladin, arguing he had “no sight” of closed-tender processes for the $423 million security contracts. Paladin has become embroiled in allegations of suspicious payments, lying during tender and deceptive conduct.

A week-long Australian Financial Review ($) investigation ($) has revealed that Paladin was earning up to $17 million a month for security at three centres despite demonstrating a string of bad debts and failed contracts across Asia ($). Until this week, the company was reportedly running its office out of a Kangaroo Island beach shack ($). Speaking to Sky News, Dutton shifted blame to department officials while arguing that there are “very few people who can deliver services in the middle of nowhere on an island”.

CLOSING THE GAP

Scott Morrison will today announce an education package aimed at bolstering schools in remote Indigenous communities, including waiving HECS debts for teachers and a $177 million injection into secondary opportunities, as he hands down another round of devastating Closing the Gap results.

According to The Australian ($), the 11th Closing the Gap report finds that only two of the seven targets set across health, education, employment and life expectancy outcomes have been met, with the employment gap actually increasing by 4.2% over the decade to 2016. The Sydney Morning Herald reports Morrison will also implement a recent COAG decision to consult more Indigenous bodies and create state targets.

ONE PUNCH-ON

United Australia Party Senator Brian Burston and One Nation adviser James Ashby have had a physical confrontation at Parliament House following duelling claims of sexual harassment between Burston, a former One Nation MP, and leader Pauline Hanson.

According to The Australian ($), the two clashed after Ashby filmed Burston leaving a Minerals Industry event last night, with the senator reportedly only giving journalists a “fuck you” and “it’s all a set-up” by way of explanation. The confrontation comes after Burston rejected allegations from Hanson he had sexually harassed a staff member, and Hanson, in turn, rejected counter-claims she had sexually harassed Burston.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

[laughter] No I’m sorry Katharine you fail to understand that people smugglers don’t deal with the nuance of the Canberra bubble.

Scott Morrison

The current Prime Minister laughs off attempts by The Guardian’s Katharine Murphy to bring “nuance” to the medivac debate.

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

Sorry, but the medivac bill is less important than you think

“Naturally, opinion is divided over the consequences of yesterday’s defeat of the government on the medical evacuation bill. For the right, the defeat of the government was really a victory for Scott Morrison, opening the way to an election triumph over Labor on the back of a 2001-style border security election campaign. For the left, what is a relatively minor tweak to the process for approving medical evacuations is a triumph of compassion and decency in our otherwise blighted and racist asylum seeker policy.”


‘With hope in your heart’: Hakeem Al-Araibi returns home

“This is a long way of saying the sweet, faltering rendition of the song which echoed through the narrow tunnel of Melbourne airport’s international arrival lounge was a very nice touch. The Australian Council of Trade Unions put together a little choir, which gathered alongside the media, Amnesty, and Pascoe Vale players and coaches, to welcome Bahraini footballer and refugee Hakeem Al-Araibi back after two months in detention in Thailand yesterday.”


A proposal for real change in rural Australia

“The report into the Murray-Darling, and the near destruction thereof — remember that? The killing of our largest river system? So last week — made for interesting if scarifying reading. The rot may have started with the Howard years, and the corresponding accommodation of National Party demands, but it was really accelerated in the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison period.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Independent review into live exports was softened after department criticised draft findings

Labor refers Tim Wilson to privileges committee, claiming ‘contempt of the House’

Peter Dutton pushing Bill Shorten into a security retreat ($)

Vanishing act: Informer 3838 evidence to royal commission ‘in doubt’

Social media fears behind ADF secrecy ($)

Banks to face a new inquiry in three years ($)

Labor makes health an election battleground with Mediscare relaunch

Water flows at key sites in Murray-Darling are worse than before basin plan, report says

‘We cannot remain silent’: Queensland clinicians’ fears on electronic medical record

Alan Jones and 2GB, 4BC bosses seek to overturn gag order on Wagner family case ($)

THE COMMENTARIAT

Debunking: 33 BillionJames Saunders (IndigenousX): “A great example of non-targeted spending was when Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion gave his (non-Indigenous) mates money from this portfolio to actively work against native title claimants in the Northern Territory. The money gifted by Nigel came from the 33 billion dollars. It is Indigenous Affairs money. But how does that benefit the mob?”

PM attempts to rescue his sinking boat with a sea of fear — John Hewson (The Sydney Morning Herald): “To run this scare campaign he will have to be totally dishonest – to totally ignore the facts of the amended legislation that was passed, and to ignore the clear messages of recent byelections, that while voters are happy to have had our borders secured, they have become increasingly concerned by the rampant inhumanity of offshore detention, and the government’s failure to deliver an effective resettlement strategy. It still opposes the New Zealand resettlement offer.”

Bill Shorten finds coal-powered politics firing up ($) — Jennifer Hewett (Australian Financial Review): “Bill Shorten took a brief time out from the political frenzy over asylum seekers enveloping Parliament House to address the mining industry’s annual conference on Wednesday. With the prospect of a Labor government so real, miners are anxious to establish whether there’s any likelihood of a repeat of the confrontations of the Rudd era.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison and opposition leader Bill Shorten are expected to address the “Closing the Gap” report on Indigenous disadvantage.

  • Hakeem al-Araibi, former Socceroo captain Craig Foster, and former Matildas captain Kate Gill will be among many taking part in a friendly football match to welcome the refugee footballer back to Australia.

  • A Greens motion calling for a royal commission into violence, abuse and neglect in disability services is expected to pass both houses.

Darwin

  • NT Families Minister Dale Wakefield will release the first action plan for the government’s 10-year Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Reduction Framework, as well as funding for programs.

Melbourne

  • A directions hearing will be held for independent Victorian candidate Brendan Eckel V Daniel Andrews in the Supreme Court.

  • Harvard University Professor Iris Bohnet will present a keynote speech at a CEDA Women in Leadership event.

  • Victorian Mental Health Minister Martin Foley will launch the Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association two-day biannual conference, set to include a keynote from Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner Jill Gallagher.

  • A directions hearing is due to be held over whether to put Federation Square on the Victorian Heritage Register.

Sydney

  • NSW Chief Justice Thomas Frederick Bathurst will present “The mysteries of judicial power: Defining the relationship between law and power in the modern state” for the UTS 2019 George Winterton Memorial Lecture.

Brisbane

  • Australia China Business Council Queensland will host a Chinese New Year Dinner with guests including Development Minister Cameron Dick, Agricultural Minister Mark Furner and opposition leader Deborah Frecklington.

  • Resources Minister Matt Canavan will deliver a national resources statement arguing demand in Asia, which will reportedly consume 40% of the world’s energy by 2030, could help Australia could create more than 24,000 new jobs.

Adelaide

  • SA Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing Corey Wingard will speak on new government business measures and help launch the 2019 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open golf tournament.

Pooncarie, NSW

  • Community consultations will be held to discuss water management issues for the local Darling River system.

Burnie, Tasmania

  • Family Planning Tasmania will launch of mobile phone pregnancy app on National Condom Day.