OFFICIALS TO THE GRILL
The Independent Commission Against Corruption will next month grill key NSW Labor figures over Chinese donations and influence. The commission will examine the relationship between suspected Chinese influence agent and Crown high roller Huang Xiangmo, former state party boss Jamie Clements and ex-state MP Ernest Wong, following reports of an attempt to subvert the state’s electoral funding laws.
The Morrison government, meanwhile, has ordered a national integrity watchdog to look into the conduct of commonwealth officials linked to Crown, following Nine’s reporting of fast-tracked visa processing for Chinese high-rollers. It comes as independent MP Andrew Wilkie revealed allegations of freely available drugs and no border checks for gamblers.
LIBERAL PARTY ASSAULT
Two former Liberal Party staffers have spoken out about being sexually assaulted by colleagues while working for Liberal politicians in 2015. The Age and Sydney Morning Herald report that Chelsey Potter and Dhanya Mani were separately assaulted by fellow staffers while working for the office of a federal minister and the office of the NSW speaker, respectively. Both women had their complaints dismissed when they attempted to raise the incidents with senior party figures.
Potter and Mani are now speaking out to call for a more “robust, transparent and confidential internal party complaints process”. Their views are shared by Kathryn Greiner, one of the Liberals’ most respected women, who says she has “changed her mind” on the party’s policy on gender quotas, saying the culture is now less female-friendly than during the 1980s.
The Nine papers are choosing not to identify the men, who deny the allegations.
If you or anyone you know needs help, sexual assault resources can be found at Reach Out or by calling 1800 RESPECT.
WHO QUESTIONS THE QUESTION TIME?
A new inquiry into parliamentary debate will look into whether mobile phones should be banned during question time, with Labor senior procedures committee member Milton Dick saying “question time has become a joke”.
The impending review, to be led by Liberal committee chair Ross Vasta, will examine whether the hour-long question window should be shortened, and if heckling should be policed with cameras and mics. Dick intends to push for the removal of “Dorothy Dixers” — easy, planted questions floated to members of the same party — but hesitated to back reforms that would ban heckling or phones, saying “we want it to be a place of robust views and interjection … we want to be live-tweeting, we want journalists to be engaged”.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
She put up with six years of being with me as opposition leader. I think she has got the right to speak for herself.
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CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY
“Reporters stalking their victims need to be ruthless and persistent. The techniques are ubiquitous: stake out people’s homes; follow them through the streets; try to reach their hospital beds; call their phones, pepper them with texts; trawl through social media for traces of a victim or their family; slide sweet letters under their doors; infiltrate their workplaces, gyms, churches, mosques, friends, neighbours, family; be so visible they feel like you’ll never go away.”
“In my language, we call water gali and we know that it equates to life. It is difficult to enunciate the emotions that emerge when you see once abundant waterways run dry, when environmental mismanagement takes that life away. Our waterways had been protected for millennia but a mere 230 years since colonisation we are on the precipice of complete environmental destruction.”
“We are all swept up in the Epic of Trump, and epics, traditionally, are populated with archetypes. Super-cop, traitor, dad — the meme that is Robert Mueller takes shape according to a viewer’s self-certainty in this uncertain age. He can be a media MacGuffin or a Russian red-herring; a war hero or a war criminal; De Niro in Goodfellas or De Niro in Dirty Grandpa, all depending on who is watching him do what where when. Testifying at the congressional hearing last week, Mueller brought to light the limits of delusions when they are dragged into the cold light of reality. We didn’t get “you talkin to me?” and we didn’t get “you blewww ittt!” but we did get an ageing by the book bureaucrat dryly replying “yes” and “no” to a string of yes and no questions.”
Voice of reason not beyond us ($) – Robert French (The Australian): “The Constitution can provide for a Voice to the parliament in a number of ways. In theory, the Constitution itself could establish and spell out in detail its function, composition and means of selection. That kind of provision, however, would be likely to introduce undesirable and unworkable rigidity. Alternatively, and preferably, the Constitution should provide, in spare terms, for the existence of the Voice as an advisory body. It should be left to the parliament to establish its detailed design by legislation. Such a constitutional provision could incorporate a specific preamble containing a statement of recognition. It would not be merely symbolic recognition because it would be linked to the conferring of authority on the parliament to establish the Voice.”
We might laugh at sushi pizza but wage theft can be a deliberate business strategy – JR Hennessy (The Guardian): “Of course, all this bellyaching ignores something fundamental: no one is owed a profitable business. That might be a difficult notion to accept in Scott Morrison’s “have a go, get a go” utopia, but we need to strongly push back against the notion that we must strip Australia’s (already fragile) worker entitlements for parts to ensure easier success for small business. Besides, wage theft has become a quite deliberate business strategy pursued by a not insignificant chunk of the hospitality world, and there’s little reason to trust the industry wouldn’t continue the practice even given the freedom to pay workers less.”
Why is a Liberal government pushing radical abortion laws? ($) – Miranda Devine (The Daily Telegraph): “As furious Liberal backbencher Kevin Connolly points out, the first most MPs knew about this bill was when Health Minister Brad Hazzard appeared at a press conference on Saturday alongside left-wing independent Alex Greenwich, the inner-city protégé of Sydney’s worst-ever Lord Mayor, Clover Moore. Hazzard actually is co-sponsoring Greenwich’s terrible bill, with the support of ersatz North Shore Liberal Felicity Wilson, and Upper House LINO (Liberal In Name Only) Trevor Khan. How these people ever got to represent Liberal voters is one of the enduring mysteries of NSW.”
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
- Nominations will close at midnight for the 2020 Australian of the Year awards, to be announced in Canberra on January 25, 2020.
- Telstra chief Andy Penn will address the National Press Club.
- People will rally in support of the Reproductive Health Reform Bill outside NSW Parliament.
- A campaign to make the Great Barrier Reef an Aussie citizen will launch street art in Melbourne and Sydney, with coral in the shape of a half a heart depicting deterioration of the reef.
- The Global Health Alliance will launch their report into health and climate change, looking at how Australia and neighbouring countries are seeing more deaths and injuries from heatwaves, cyclones and other extreme weather events.
- Victoria’s royal commission into police use of informants will hold the first of its closed public hearings, with witnesses including a member of the former Source Development Unit.
- Zhenbo Gao will be sentenced for one count of animal cruelty after being accused by the RSPCA of killing an echidna.
- Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne will attend the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the ASEAN Regional Forum and the ASEAN-Australia Post Ministerial Conference.