Christmas island asylum seekers
Christmas Island detention centre (Image: AAP/ Lukas Coch)

CHRISTMAS ISLAND OPERATIONAL

The Department of Home Affairs has confirmed that a group of 20 asylum seekers ($) has been returned to Sri Lanka after their boat were intercepted and sent to the Christmas Island detention centre last week. It marks the first time the facility has been used since the government spent $185 million reopening it last year.

The Australian reports that the boat left Sri Lanka in early May and was spotted during aerial patrols. The asylum seekers reportedly spent “a few days” in detention before being returned to Colombo on a government charter yesterday, after none were deemed to have a legitimate claim to asylum.

The Sydney Morning Herald notes that, while no medical transferees have so far been taken to the facility since the passing of parliament’s medivac bill, the fact it is now operational and staffed signal that it may soon be used regularly.

MUELLER SPEAKS OUT

US special counsel Robert Mueller has spoken publicly for the first time about the Russia investigation to insist it did not clear Donald Trump of obstruction of justice, in a move that is expected to intensify calls for impeachment.

“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said in a surprise 10-minute statement at the Justice Department. “We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.”

Trump and his Attorney-General William Barr have repeatedly claimed that Mueller’s report exonerated the president, but Mueller made it clear Wednesday morning that this was not the case. Mueller noted that while charging Trump with a crime was “not an option we could consider”, the constitution provides other outlets for addressing presidential wrongdoing, in what The New York Times called “a clear reference to the ability of congress to begin impeachment proceedings.

HUSIC OUT, KENEALLY IN

Opposition human services spokesman Ed Husic will step down from Labor’s frontbench to make way for former NSW premier Kristina Keneally, ahead of today’s caucus vote. Husic announced on Facebook that he would not run for the shadow ministry, backing his “great friend” Keneally for the spot, later telling RN Drive that “it seems right that a man should step aside for a stellar woman to take over”.

Former PM Kevin Rudd gave his two cents on 7.30 last night, saying that Labor must rid itself of factionalism, while suggesting there should have been room for Husic and Keneally, both considered rising stars.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

I do have a particularly huge one, I must say, that was given to me by Cloncurry Council up in Bob Katter country that is as big as Bob’s. That is pretty pristine, I’ve got to say, in my house.

Anthony Albanese

The new Labor leader goes on an extended tangent about his Akubra collection with ABC’s Rafael Epstein.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

‘Ken Wyatt calls for patience on indigenous voice ($)

Senate crossbenchers want Coalition to use ‘big stick’ laws to break up the supermarkets

Father of one-punch victim won’t oppose repeal of lockout law

Sydney water restrictions enforced early amid NSW drought

‘We might be biased’: More diverse views needed at ABC, says Buttrose

Catholic archdiocese mired in deficit and debt ($)

Unionists call for John Setka’s sacking over harassment charge

Julie Bishop says no thanks to governor’s role, eyes speaking circuit ($)

Matt Canavan shrugs off Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions increase

Boris Johnson to face court over claims he lied during Brexit campaign

‘Folau’s law’: MPs push for bolder action in a ‘new dawn’ for religious freedom

‘Complete beat-up’: Downer laughs off Trump’s Russian probe conspiracy theory

Albanese would accept Shorten on his frontbench if he ‘wants a place’

Corkman cowboys cut deal with minister and city council on pub site

Uluru: As climb ban approaches, tourists flock to Central Australia to tick risky item off bucket list

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

Labor mediocrities rise to the top as party struggles with defeat

“At the moment within Labor, it’s the Right causing difficulties, doubtless out of angst that the Left now has the leadership. That the Labor Right in states outside NSW couldn’t find a deputy better than Richard Marles — exemplar of the truism that a mediocre man is always at his best — augurs poorly for Labor in terms of both talent and stability. That South Australian right-winger Don Farrell will continue, as seems likely, as deputy Senate leader defies explanation.”


How do you solve a problem like toxic masculinity?

“Imbesi said it was common and somewhat understandable for men, and some women, to have an initially defensive reaction to critiques of toxic masculinity. But the reactionaries, she said, were out of step with the evidence, which has highlighted ongoing problems with men’s attitudes towards women.”


The case for a Labor-Greens coalition

“The Australian Greens are not perfect by any means, but the ALP could learn something from the grassroots community that has informed Greens policy: raise Newstart, abolish the robodebt scheme, and defund private and independent schools in order to return billions of dollars of funding to resources-poor public education. Not to mention the raft of ideas that the two parties agree on. If the ALP is serious about ever being in government again, it needs to look at a coalition as a serious possibility. Labor should know better than anyone that there is power in a union.”

THE COMMENTARIAT

How Joe Hildebrand made the murder of a woman about his feelingsVan Badham (The Guardian): “There is something more precise to be identified from these events than is covered just by their inclusion in the #notallmen discourse. This what I would call the Masculine Insistence Paradox – a man passionately refuses to share responsibility for the perpetration of sexist narratives and dangerous gender roles and by doing so affirms both.”

Why ALP must re-engage with religious people ($) – Nick Dyrenfurth (The Daily Telegraph): “The unease of progressive politics with religion cuts against the grain of Labor history. Once, much of Labor’s core support came from working-class Irish Catholic Australians. Non-conformist and Protestants were heavily involved in the labour movement. Early Labor prime minister Andrew Fisher was Presbyterian, its first PM Chris Watson was an Anglican, while leading MPs such as William Spence (co-founder of the Australian Workers’ Union) were Methodists. Laborism was inseparable from their faith. In the 1892 words of Spence: “Unionism is simply the teachings of that greatest of all social reformers, Him of Nazareth”.”

Don’t lock out the facts on lockout laws: they’ve made this city saferNadine Ezard (The Sydney Morning Herald): “Five years ago, the impact of alcohol-related violence and injuries on the hospital, in terms of presentations and admissions, was nothing short of severe. From our perspective, the lockout measures have been a success. The number of alcohol-related injuries at St Vincent’s have plummeted, including a reduction of serious facial fractures of more than 60 per cent. There have also been no alcohol-related deaths at the hospital since the measures were introduced.”

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The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • Federal Labor MPs will caucus for the first time since the election to confirm its leadership team and frontbench, with defence spokesman Richard Marles expected to be confirmed as deputy.

  • West Belconnen will host its annual Tracks to Reconciliation, an event to explore the local community and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island culture.

National

  • National Reconciliation Week 2019 continues, with the theme of “Grounded in Truth, Walk Together with Courage”. A full list of events can be found on the NRW website.

Brisbane

  • The regulator will hand down a decision about whether to approve Adani’s plan for the black-throated finch.

Perth

  • The WA Police Force will award the inaugural Aboriginal Service Medals at a special Reconciliation Week ceremony.

New Zealand

  • The New Zealand government will unveil its second annual budget, billed as a world-first “wellbeing budget” aimed at measuring factors beyond economic growth.