Minister for Agriculture (former Minister for Sport) Bridget McKenzie and Prime Minister Scott Morrison (Image: AAP/Marc Tewksbury)

LAST LINE OF DEFENCE

In a major contradiction of Scott Morrison and Bridget McKenzie’s key justification of the sports rorts scheme, the Australian National Audit Office has told a Senate inquiry that 290 — or 43% — of successful grants were ineligible, either due to late submissions or changed circumstances.

According to the ABC and The Guardian, ANAO presented evidence that:

  • both Morrison and McKenzie’s offices shared copies of that hilariously colour-coded spreadsheet, although final say was afforded to the then-sports minister;
  • Queensland’s LNP submitted their own wish-list of clubs in marginal seats; and
  • not even the Auditor-General has seen the allegedly dissenting Gaetjens report.

TALKING POINT: ANAO has been clear from the get-go that McKenzie’s office demanded Sports Australia accept late applications, which, if you include the “ministerial intervention” line, makes for two highly disputed core defences.

FLOODING IN THE NORTH, REJOICING IN THE SOUTH

Severe storms continue to smash parts of South East Queensland, with the ABC reporting of flash flooding across the region and that the body of a missing 75-year-old kayaker has been pulled from a Sunshine Coast river. Additionally, 9News reports Cyclone Uesi hit NSW’s Lord Howe Island overnight.

Further south-west, however, Sydney’s dams have reached their highest level since April 2018 and the RFS has contained all the state’s remaining bushfires,  The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

TRAVEL BAN TENSION

China’s embassy in Canberra has expressed “deep regret and dissatisfaction” at Scott Morrison’s extension of the mainland-China-to-Australia travel ban, the ABC reports.

Now in its third week, the extension is likely to further inflame the university sector, with The Australian ($) reporting an Education Consultants Association of Australia survey has found nearly one-third of new, stranded Chinese students are willing to re-enrol in another country.

FUN FACT: Even as China’s coronavirus death tolls climbs to 1,370, Australia sits with just a handful of countries, including Italy, the Philippines, and Bangladesh, in ignoring WHO travel advice by closing its borders to China.

ANTARCTICA HITS AN ALL-TIME HIGH

For the first time in history, scientists have registered a temperature of 20.75°C in Antarctica, The Guardian reports — almost a full degree higher than the previous record of 19.8°C.

TALKING POINT: Meanwhile, Australia is currently having a serious conversation about underwriting new, otherwise uneconomic, coal-fired power stations.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

Next issue I seek to clarify, you did find that no ineligible project or application was funded?

[To which Brian Boyd responded]: No senator that’s not what we found.

Eric Abetz

The Liberal senator opens a can of worms that very quickly explodes in his face.

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

When Scotty met Ita: the burning issues for the ABC

“Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his captain’s pick for ABC chair Ita Buttrose had a tete-a-tete today. Here’s the agenda both needed to bring to the table.”


Meet the industry that says it can’t survive 2.2% wage growth

“Normally, employer groups are among the most vocal supporters of rigorous enforcement of industrial relations laws, especially on ‘rogue’ and ‘militant’ unions.”


Kevin Rudd’s think tank opens up new questions in China debate

Kevin Rudd has landed back in Australia with a splash to set up a Melbourne outpost of the US-based Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI).”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Mining billionaire Angela Bennett fights to have alleged fraud case dismissed in court

Consumers to benefit from TPG-Vodafone merger as competition heats up

Burden’s lucrative appointment sparks Transport for NSW review

Residents declare war on Labor over toxic soil dump plan

Qantas threatens to bring in new pilots for ‘Sunrise’ flights

Matildas draw with China in Olympics qualifier thanks to late goal from Emily van Egmond

‘Hold their feet to the fire’: Christopher Pyne lashes French subs builder ($)

Australia says there’s no evidence he stole money, but this Palestinian aid worker remains in an Israeli jail

McClatchy, major US local news publisher, files for bankruptcy

Sajid Javid quits as Chancellor of the Exchequer amid Boris Johnson’s Cabinet reshuffle

THE COMMENTARIAT

It feels like an upheaval, but precious little has changedWaleed Aly (The Sydney Morning Herald): “First the fires, then the floods. We’re in a moment where, after months of fighting one natural disaster, it is eliminated only by the arrival of a new one.”

What price unity when both sides get the wobblesSean Parnell (InQueensland): “This destabilising force has been in Canberra for years, on both sides of politics. And, now, like the wobbly wheels on a speeding shopping trolley, it is starting to shake Queensland again.”

Bettina Arndt doesn’t speak for me, and she’s not helping men eitherKaye Maher (New Matilda): “The year was 1977 and I was a 14-year-old child living in Bendigo. That was the year my life came to a screeching halt through the ultimate betrayal of trust.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Sydney

  • Opening day of Mardi Gras 2020, to run until March 1.

Melbourne

  • Melbourne Town Hall will host the first National Climate Emergency Summit, with singer Peter Garrett, US scientist Michael Mann, The Guardian’s Lenore Taylor and more expected to deliver addresses.

  • Consumer Action will launch a new report into consumer issues across Victorian Indigenous communities.

Adelaide

  • Opening day of the Adelaide Fringe Festival, to run until March 15.