Scott Morrison Bourke Street
(Image: AAP/Ben Rushton)

THE BIG 5-0

The federal Coalition has lost its 50th consecutive Newspoll in a row, with Labor extending its two-party preferred lead from 53-47 to 54-46. The Australian ($) reports that the federal Coalition’s primary vote has dropped a point to 36% since the February 24 Newspoll, with Labor steady at 39% and One Nation making a jump from 5% to 7%.

Meanwhile, the NSW parties stand almost neck-and-neck ahead of a much tighter March 23 state election. Yesterday’s UComms/ReachTel poll puts Labor ahead just 51-49 in the NSW election. That poll, which has also found that more than 52% of voters oppose the Sydney stadium plans, dropped before Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Opposition Leader Michael Daley made respective infrastructure and education pledges at yesterday’s campaign launches.

157 DEAD IN CRASH

An Ethiopian Airlines flight to Nairobi has crashed shortly after leaving Addis Ababa. Ethiopia’s state broadcaster reports no survivors of the 149 passengers and eight crew members aboard.

While the exact cause is yet to be determined, AP/Reuters reports that the Boeing 737-800 MAX crashed six minutes after taking off at 8.38am (4.38pm AEDT) Sunday and experienced what Swedish flight-tracking website Flightradar24 describes as an “unstable vertical speed after take-off”. The Australian embassy in Addis Ababa is urgently seeking information as to whether any Australians were on board.

PALADIN, PART ???

The federal government reportedly spent almost $9 million on a Manus Island building project that was abruptly scrapped, just three weeks before awarding the controversial Paladin group a security contract now worth $423 million.

The Australian Financial Review ($) reports that Toll Group was contracted to build extra accomodation at the East Lorengau Refugee Transit Centre but, with two planes on standby to transport staff and construction equipment, the deal was cancelled on September 4 2017. This is roughly around the same time Home Affairs closed tender process with Paladin.

In separate news, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Kevin Rudd’s older brother Greg Rudd is working as a lobbyist for two companies controversially awarded multimillion-dollar contracts for detention-related work in Papua New Guinea.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

For Bill Shorten to even suggest that, I think, shows a fundamental lack of understanding about economics.

[On being informed she’s responding to a Mathias Cormann proposition] Ah, he’s absolutely right.

Linda Reynolds

The freshly minted Defence Industry Minister delivers an all-time flip-flop on whether Australia’s flexible, “modest” wage rates are deliberately designed to drive employment.

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

Forget the leadership rumours, the Nationals have to get through NSW first

“The focus of attention this time is Michael McCormack, Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister, whose abysmal name recognition and weak media performances (notably his excruciating interview with Waleed Aly on Ten’s The Project, which has ricocheted around social media for the past week) reportedly have his colleagues considering exchanging one set of problems for another by returning to Barnaby Joyce.”


On finding a place for women in the modern Liberal Party

“Despite extensive commentary on her shoes, it is doubtless that there is great respect throughout the nation for retiring federal MP Julie Bishop. I personally find her enigmatic. A woman in power identifying as a conservative is a form of self-flagellation, and she does not seem the flagellating type.”


Wage stagnation is the front line of a class war

Bill Shorten, presenting his plans to reform industrial relations to lift wages growth, told Australia’s business elite this week that ‘getting wages moving isn’t a war-cry for class warriors’. Except, it should be. Wage stagnation in Australia, as in other economies, is an act of class war. It’s a war started by powerful corporations and enabled by their political and media allies.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Taxpayers face bill of up to $1b to fund MPs’ retirements

Promise new coal plant at election, Barnaby Joyce urges Morrison ($)

Draft protest law consultation should be extended: Labor

Health insurers battle public hospitals over $1b a year cash grab

Morrison government emissions cap move a step towards carbon trading ($)

Celia Hammond wins Liberal preselection in Julie Bishop’s seat

World’s biggest fund to dump Woodside, Santos and others ($)

Queensland councillor misconduct allegations swamp new watchdog ($)

Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is ‘not a state of all its citizens’

Turkey expels three German journalists

THE COMMENTARIAT

NSW a sign of things to come? ($) — Jennifer Hewett (Australian Financial Review): “After the event, [Scott Morrison] declared Berejiklian had just showed what a government could achieve with a strong economy. He still appreciates that Coalition politics is on much weaker ground in NSW. Berejiklian should be about to preside over a comfortable win on March 23, based on eight years of a Coalition government reviving the state economy from a near-comatose state under Labor.”

Labor needs to be up front about how it will lift the minimum wageDavid Crowe (The Sydney Morning Herald):Bill Shorten is not the first politician to want the best of both worlds by complaining about a problem without revealing a solution. But that does not mean Australian voters should take him on trust. The Opposition Leader has decided the federal election will be a ‘referendum on wages’ because pay rates are not keeping up with company profits.”

Once were waterways: cultural dispersal and environmental vandalism in the lower Murray Darling BasinJack Latimore (NITV): “In general, Pumped was applauded as exemplary investigative journalism and a vital intervention in the interests of the Australian public. However, it overlooked First Nations perspectives and experiences almost entirely. There was no voice from the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations (NBAN), nor from the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations (MLDRIN) in the lower basin to the south, and there was a notable absence of the Barkandji people in between.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Sydney

  • Community group Local Democracy Matters will appear at the NSW Court of Appeal attempting a fresh freeze on the government’s demolition of Sydney’s Allianz Stadium.

  • NSW Police will host the student Indigenous Police Recruitment Our Way Delivery Program, which supports Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people to join the police.

  • Motoring body NRMA will release a report on which NSW roads and highways voters want upgraded, based on a ratings survey completed by 23,400 people.

  • American historian Nancy MacLean will present “Democracy in chains” for a UNSW Centre for Ideas event.

  • Candidates for the marginal NSW seat of Coogee will debate at the Bondi and Districts Chamber of Commerce.

Brisbane

  • The Brisbane Supreme Court will issue a judgment on the liquidation of Clive Palmer’s Queensland Nickel.

Melbourne

  • Lord Mayor Sally Capp and Moomba Monarchs Jane Bunn and Archie Thompson will launch the Moomba Parade.

Victoria/Tasmania/ACT

  • Public holidays for each state/territory include, respectively, Labour Day/Eight Hours Day/Canberra Day.

Tonga and Samoa

  • Assistant Minister for the Pacific Anne Ruston will tour Tonga and Samoa this week, including checking on recovery efforts after Cyclone Gita in Tonga last year.