A joint Sydney Morning Herald–Four Corners investigation has revealed that Chinese officials pushed two Australian residents for information about a classified 2016 inquiry launched by Malcolm Turnbull into China’s influence in Australia.
Sydney-based academic Dr Feng Chongyi was reportedly threatened with criminal charges in a 2017 interrogation over links to the inquiry, while blogger Yang Hengjun was allegedly intercepted and questioned by Chinese officials in Sydney on his way to meet consultant and former journalist John Garnaut, who led the investigation. Yang has subsequently been detained in China since January.
The report also reveals how China’s consulate allegedly bullied local council and media over “anti-China ties”.
Post-budget polling has found victories for both major parties, with the Coalition enjoying its best Newspoll result since turfing Malcolm Turnbull but losing roughly the same ground in an Ipsos poll.
According to The Australian’s poll ($), the Coalition has seen a two-party-preferred turnaround of four points since March 10 to trail Labor 48-52. Labor enjoyed its own four-point jump since February over at Nine’s Ipsos results, which provided a 53-47 TPP figure.
For how both polls would play out in the House of Reps, check out Antony Green’s new swing calculator.
PEZZULLO’S CYCLIST STOUSH
Home Affairs department secretary Mike Pezzullo is disputing claims he hit a Canberra cyclist with his car.
The Australian ($) reports that Jason Sievers claims he was knocked from his bike and broke his collarbone the morning of December 19 when Pezzullo’s car crossed in front of him, and has complained of having to face blood and alcohol testing while Pezzullo did not.
The Home Affairs boss, who was last week the target of a no-confidence petition by public sector union members, denied hitting Sievers in an AFP crash report and judged that Sievers had “hit his brakes and gone over the handle bar”.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
Very exciting… ABB launches 8-minute charger for electric vehicles.
CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY
“With budget week done and the election about to be called, it’s hard to avoid the sense that Labor had the better of the fiscal setpieces this week. How much that counts out in the electorate remains to be seen — I remain sceptical that most voters would have much idea at all what each side is offering beyond ‘tax cuts’ — but Bill Shorten’s budget reply last night was the superior political offering.”
“On Wednesday night the Senate passed, without debate or amendment, the Criminal Code Amendment (Sharing of Abhorrent Violent Material) Bill. It flew through the House of Reps yesterday and is now law.”
“When it comes to the debacle of the Australian climate and energy policy, over the past three decades there has been one thing that politics and business alike have been willing to commit to: a policy of ‘predatory delay’.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Budget has woken the voters from their torpor ($) — Simon Benson (The Australian): “This is the bounce that Scott Morrison has been praying for. The Prime Minister now starts the race in with a chance rather than completely euchred. The latest Newspoll numbers will confirm for Morrison that his political strategy is right and the policy settings are starting to pay dividends.”
Only politicians think Australians will change their opinion of a government in return for money — Peter Hartcher (The Sydney Morning Herald): “The Prime Minister promised voters $302 billion in tax cuts over the next decade and $100 billion in ‘congestion busting’ infrastructure in last week’s budget. And the voters seem reasonably happy with it overall, according to the new Ipsos poll. But it’s made no difference to the electorate’s intention.”
Anger over Adani could split Liberal-Nationals coalition ($) — Renee Viellaris (The Courier-Mail): “Tensions are boiling over within the LNP. So angry are some LNP Federal parliamentarians with their interstate colleagues that they have flagged sitting as a separate party after the next election. Or at the very least, they will consider voting as a bloc.”
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PRACTICE BY GUY RUNDLE
Practice distils Guy Rundle’s best writing on politics, culture, class and more. In it, he roves the campaign trails of Obama and Trump, Rudd and Abbott; rides the Greyhound around a desolate America; bails up Bob Katter and Pauline Hanson; and excavates the deeper meanings of everything from Nirvana to Anzac Day.
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Scott Morrison will present on the federal budget at Valley Chamber of Commerce Business’ Cloudland business lunch.
Shadow Arts Minister Tony Burke will deliver a keynote address at Monash University symposium “Australian Cultural Policy: The Next Decade”, to also feature Crikey contributor Ben Eltham.
Box Hill Town Hall will host a climate election forum with Chisholm and Deakin candidates including Deakin MP Michael Sukkar.
Royal Melbourne Hospital will host a trial of a paperclip-sized brain reading device to help speech and movement.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore will launch forum event “Sydney 2050 for Business” at the Sydney Startup Hub.
The Seaforth Baptist Church will hold a Warringah Election Forum, to include a keynote from World Vision chief advocate Tim Costello and to feature all local candidates except Tony Abbott.
Jockey Hugh Bowman will unveil a mural of Winx at Wynyard Park.
The Australian Centre for the Study of Armed Conflict and Society at UNSW Canberra will host a “Future Warfare” conference.
Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy in Washington Katrina Cooper will present “An Australia-US Relationship for the 21st Century” at the University of Tasmania.
The government will release the results of the 2018 NAPLAN school tests.