(Image: AAP/Tracey Nearmy)

MEDISCARY

The Medicare card details of three former Australian Federal Police commissioners were advertised for sale on a dark web marketplace, according to an investigation by the ABC’s 7.30 program.

Former commissioners Andrew Colvin, Mike Keelty and Tony Negus all potentially had their details sold on a dark web site — Colvin’s apparently while he was still commissioner.

Medicare credentials can be used in identification fraud, and the hack is unlikely to calm any fears over the government’s ability to securely manage Australian’s My Health Record data.

ASSANGE’S FIGHT

Julian Assange’s extradition fight could last years, and his defence could hinge on the claim he has been illegally spied upon and his sensitive information has been leaked to the CIA.

If extradited to the US and found guilty, he faces 175 years for computer fraud and obtaining and disclosing national defence information.

Meanwhile, a group of 100 doctors has asked Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Prime Minister Scott Morrison to intervene in Assange’s incarceration in a London prison and to evacuate him to an Australian hospital. There are claims the 48-year-old WikiLeaks founder has endured “psychological torture” during efforts to extradite him to the United States.

RUTHLESS

About 20 buildings have burnt to the ground in the Blue Mountains — including the home of Mount Wilso­n and Mount Irvine fire captai­n Beth Raines ($), The Australian reports.

The fire, which has already burnt almost 400,000 hectares is now nearing the Mount Piper Power Station, the state’s fourth-largest power station, responsible for 10% of NSW’s electricity.

Former emergency services leaders say they feel “huge disappointment in the lack of national leadership” and will “go it alone” by convening their own bushfire crisis summit.

Meanwhile, Victorians are being warned of more (and worsening) bushfires this week, as a potentially record-breaking heatwave pushes temperatures in parts of the state to the high 40s. Fires in Western Australia and Queensland continued to rage overnight.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

Now women, I just want you to know; you are not perfect, but what I can say pretty indisputably is that you’re better than [men].

Barack Obama

Speaking at a leadership event in Singapore, the former US president drops this pearl; we look forward to a day of “woke nonsense” columns across News Corp in response.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

New ministers named as Johnson cabinet takes shape

Drought relief plan to fail amid water ministers’ row ($)

Ben Roberts-Smith rejects reports by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald

Australia’s major defence projects in further $1.2bn budget blowout

Lawyer X: Simon Overland ‘unaware Nicola Gobbo snitching on mob clients’ ($)

New Zealand volcano investigation could take a year, says Jacinda Ardern

Exclusive Backpackers blaze prompts WA State Government rethink on housing for homeless ($)

Death penalty hindering Japan pact ahead of Scott Morrison’s visit ($)

‘Very worrying’: Call for AI, facial recognition reforms to prevent discrimination

Mercury rising as heatwave threatens records

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

Frydenberg confirms a full decade of wage stagnation as he slashes surplus

Today’s document, of course, is a huge contrast with the sunny optimism of the budget and the government’s election campaign, in which we were repeatedly told that the economy was strong and wages growth was coming. Wages growth is now further away than ever — on today’s figures (which still look a tad optimistic) workers will have racked up a full decade of slow growth before wages crawl back to a measly 3%. The government’s revenue writedowns are, then, its own fault.


A big year for the Australian police state

From the Australian Federal Police (AFP) raiding the homes and offices of journalists, to the widespread strip-searching of children, 2019 saw Australia’s steady slide towards authoritarianism become a lot more visible.

The erosion of civil liberties in this country has been going on for some time. As Crikey reported last year, we’ve passed more laws restricting fundamental rights and freedoms than any other Western nation. But this year felt different.


If only the big four consulting firms loved transparency as much as schmoozing politicians

In order to avoid the already minimal transparency laws around political disclosures, both major parties are increasingly moving away from straight political donations — which KPMG is insistent it doesn’t make — to rely on subscription-style contributions that provide access to decision-makers at events but with fewer disclosure requirements.

That’s why virtually all of KPMG’s contributions are figures like $16,500, or $5500, or $33,000 — because they’ve had GST added to them to reflect that a good or service has been purchased, the service being the opportunity to lobby a frontbencher directly.

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

THE COMMENTARIAT

Five things MYEFO tells us about the economy and the nation’s finances — Danielle Wood & Kate Griffiths (The Conversation): “Each time wages forecasts missed, treasury assumed future growth would be even higher, to restore the long-term trend. Today’s MYEFO is a long-overdue admission from treasury that labour market dynamics have shifted – in other words, lower wage growth is the “new normal”. Even by 2022-23, wages are projected to grow at only 3% (and even that would still be a substantial turnaround compared to today).”

Frydenberg handballs growth challenge to RBA — Robert Guy (Australian Financial Review): “Treasurer Josh Frydenberg offered nothing in the way of new stimulus to bolster sluggish growth in the government’s mid-year economic and fiscal outlook, handballing the job of underwriting growth back to Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe. With his eye on the prize of a $5 billion budget surplus – diminished though it is from the original $7.1 billion forecast – the Treasurer has ignored the central bank governor, who has lamented the absence of fiscal policy as a supplementary booster to the RBA’s three rate cuts.”

It’s simple: Conservatives gave the people what they wanted — Adam Creighton (The Australian): “If [Boris] Johnson had the chance to throw a book on the table, it might have been a 2006 collection of his popular newspaper columns, Have I Got Views for You, as evidence of his intellectual dexterity. A champion of Brexit in 2016, Johnson famously wrote two columns for Britain’s the Daily Telegraph espousing Remain and Leave, respectively, before plumping for the latter as more politically saleable. He will be the most pragmatic Tory leader the UK has seen.”

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Parramatta

  • A continued sentence hearing will be held for Belal Betka, who pleaded guilty to engaging in hostile activity in a foreign country after being arrested at his Sydney home by counter-terrorism police in 2017.

Adelaide

  • The Australian Energy Regulator will pursue Federal Court action against the operators of four SA wind farms over the statewide blackout.

  • Former Don Dale Youth Detention Centre inmate Dylan Riley Jenkins will continue Federal Court action against the Northern Territory over his in-facility abuse.

Sydney

  • A costs hearing will be held following Senator Sarah Hanson-Young winning her defamation claim against former senator David Leyonhjelm.

Brisbane

  • ANZ will hold its AGM.

  • Water ministers from across Australia will hold a COAG meeting to discuss Murray-Darling Basin Authority review.

  • Clive Palmer will attend court as part of Queensland Nickel’s case against liquidation company FTI Consulting’s managing director John Park.

Peter Fray

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