CONTROVERSIES CAN’T STOP, WON’T STOP

Freedom of information documents accessed by The Australian Financial Review ($) show that family members of one of Papua New Guinea’s most powerful politicians are directly benefiting from the $423 million worth of Australian government security contracts obtained by Paladin Group.

The documents reveal that Paladin entered into an employment and service agreement in January last year with Peren Investment, a company controlled by brothers of PNG parliamentary speaker and Manus MP Job Pomat, just one month after landowners demanding compensation blockaded the Manus Island refugee transit centre.

The news comes as The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Home Affairs gave Paladin just six days to submit its initial $90 million Manus contract after an earlier tender process had collapsed. Labor and the crossbench will grill Home Affairs over the  contracts at Senate estimates today and tomorrow.

COALITION BACKS DOWN

The Coalition is preparing to wave through a key ALP small business reform amid threats from Nationals preparing to cross the floor. The move comes as the government also plans to not block a Greens motion for a royal commission into abuse within the disability sector, despite having voted against the motion last Thursday.

According to The Australian ($), Scott Morrison has backed down on “access to justice measures” that help small businesses take legal action against larger competitors. Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that Morrison has labeled claims he opposed the Greens’ disability sector motion as a “cruel lie” but has only promised to begin consultations on a future royal commission.

 

COALER HEADS PREVAIL

The CFMEU has issued a pre-election ultimatum for Labor’s federal candidates across Queensland to pledge support for the coal-mining industry, including Adani’s controversial plans to unlock the Galilee Basin.

The Australian ($) reports that CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland executive Steve Smyth has threatened to campaign against individual candidates no matter their party and savaged the Palaszczuk government for ordering a recent external review of Adani’s ecological management plan. According to the AFR ($), Smyth’s public announcement comes after the Queensland branch passed a December motion in which he dismissed green jobs and called for the state government to invest in carbon capture and storage technologies.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

The issue of obesity is a matter I take very seriously and would never trivialise it — or to add in any way to stigmatisation. I sincerely apologise for this very unfortunate photo taken as I demonstrated how my stomach felt after scrambled eggs reacted with yogurt I had just eaten.

Bridget McKenzie

The Deputy Nationals leader apologises for what appears to be, if we’re being generous, a poorly timed photograph at the National Obesity Summit.

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

Opening the gap: Morrison reveals same lack of Indigenous progress

“But all have demonstrated the cliche that good intentions mean nothing. Closing The Gap, at least in its first decade, has failed to meet the ambitious targets set by the Rudd government, in concert with the states and territories via COAG, a decade ago. In the report delivered by Malcolm Turnbull last year, just three indicators were on track. This year it’s just two. “


Is there a future for arts journalism?

“In recent years the number of arts journalists, the number of news pages, the number of dedicated publications, and the rates freelancers get paid for arts journalism and reviews have steadily been decreasing. In 2018, experimental arts magazine RealTime stopped regular publishing, classical music and arts magazine Limelight went into liquidation last year, and specialist arts and entertainment journalists have been among those made redundant from both News Corp and Fairfax in recent years. Just last week, The Sunday Age’s columnist Craig Mathieson announced his column on Melbourne screen culture was ending.”


Sex, power and finding success in the music industry

“Much has been made of how the Me Too movement, which has swept Hollywood, hasn’t managed to take hold in the music industry. Part of it, perhaps, is to do with the fact that women are still trapped in multi-album deals with their abusers — like the one Kesha fought so valiantly to try and get out of. But I think much of the way men in music wield their power is subtler than it was with Harvey Weinstein or Kevin Spacey, instead based on with-strings-attached offers of help like those allegedly used by Ryan Adams.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Where has the money gone from ‘Diamond’ Joe Gutnick’s loans?

Double tax hit haunts near retirees ($)

Labor promises $40,000 bursaries to encourage ‘best and brightest’ into teaching

Government attempting to deport Indigenous man to New Zealand

More delays on protecting LGBT+ students

Drought-ravaged Gippsland farms are Australia’s ‘forgotten drought’ ($)

Young Liberals sacked from government over Tinder scandal

Not for sale: government backtracks on plans for WestConnex land

Hundreds stranded as British airline Flybmi collapses amid Brexit uncertainty

Japan PM Shinzo Abe was asked to nominate Donald Trump for Nobel Prize by US, media reports

THE COMMENTARIAT

Internationalist Left insisting Australians must come second ($) — Jennifer Oriel (The Australian): “The first parliamentary sitting week of 2019 was spent debating a reform that confers no benefit to Australians. The refugee medical evacuation promotes the cause of non-­citizens. It reflects internationalism, an ideology shared by socialist Labor, the Greens and Left-leaning independents. In ending its policy of strong, bipartisan border security in Australia, Labor has renewed its commitment to the Progressive Alliance, a global fraternity of socialist and social democratic parties.”

Facebook fightback: ACCC has not made the case for its most striking plan — Simon Milner (The Sydney Morning Herald): “Starting in 2017, the Facebook Journalism Project was established to collaborate with the news industry and develop solutions that support a more informed community. News is not the only reason people come to Facebook — in fact, news makes up less than 5 per cent of an individual’s News Feed on average — but we share the goal of supporting a sustainable news ecosystem.”

Territory’s arm-wrestle is unique ($) — George Williams (The Australian): “After the election, the CLP assumed the mantle of opposition. It only won two seats, but was nonetheless the largest non-governing group. The position of the CLP as the official opposition has now been challenged. Three independents, Robyn Lambley, Terry Mills and Yingiya Guyula, have formed a new grouping known as The Alliance. They say they should be recognised as the opposition, and receive the benefits that come with this. However, the CLP is not prepared to budge.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Greens’ motion for a royal commission into abuse in disability sectors.

  • Senate estimates will be held into energy and the environment, Home Affairs, parliamentary offices and PM&C, and regional and rural affairs.

  • Mayors representing 21 National Growth Areas Alliance Councils will launch their Federal election campaign, “Catch Up with the Outer Suburbs”.

  • Writer Jane Caro will discuss her new book Accidental Feminists with ANU/Canberra Times event host Alex Sloan.

Sydney

  • Over 30 festival organisers are expected to hold a crisis meeting at NSW parliament.

Melbourne

  • Preliminary arguments begin for three men charged with terror offences over the firebombing of a Fawkner mosque.

Adelaide

  • State independent MP Troy Bell is to appear in the District Court for arguments on his trial for theft charges.

Darwin

  • Bombing of Darwin veteran Flight Lieutenant Brian Winspear, 99, will appear at a plaque unveiling to represent the 2 and 13 RAAF Hudson Bomber Squadrons.