Rodrigo Duterte Rappler
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte (Image: King Rodriguez/Presidential Photo)

Not quite as it seams

The NSW Narrabri Shire Council have added insult to chemotherapy by removing Councillor Ann Loder on the grounds that she failed to attend three consecutive council meetings without taking approved leave.

This reportedly came as a surprise to Loder since the reason for absence was her treatment and surgery for breast cancer, about which the mayor and council had been advised.

In a statement to the local paper The Courier, the council explained that they had sought advice from the Office of Local Government (OLG) “regarding any available provisions for consideration of any extenuating circumstances. The advice to council from the OLG was that no such provisions exist within the act … Further advice from the OLG clearly articulated that the vacancy in civic office is automatic.”

And that doesn’t look great just on its own, but the decision just so happens to coincide with the council’s discussion about approving the controversial Narrabri Gas Project. Dum dum duuuuummm!

Former MP for New England Tony Windsor has his own theory about why it happened, tweeting “Narrabri Council sacks cancer suffering councillor on a technicality to change voting balance. Nothing to do with a large gas field of course! Callous treatment of a community contributor who deserved support rather than the three card trick.”

But whether the situation is kicking out a councillor with cancer for not signing a form, kicking out a councillor with cancer for political reasons, or kicking out a councillor with cancer to kowtow to the coal seam gas industry … look, there’s really no obvious way to spin this as good representative government at work.

Changing channels

Certain conservative federal politicians with ABC-shaped chips upon their shoulders are doubtlessly looking to the Philippines with envious eyes at the moment — and not just George Christensen, who’s presumably planning his next post-lockdown visit for some more “charity work through his church”.

The nation’s downright Trumpian President Rodrigo Duterte has refused to extend the TV license of the Philippines’ largest broadcaster ABS-CBN, which he has accused of waging war against him and his controversial government by refusing to broadcast his election commercials during the 2016 campaign.

The broadcaster has a great deal of political influence, but like all media companies in the country relies on approval from congress to extend its franchises to broadcast. Generally this has been a bureaucratic rubber stamp, but Duterte has used the 2020 expiration as a chance to get it off the air.

The matter is going before the supreme court, but it’s worth noting that this silencing of ABS-CBN has happened before.

Back in 1972, the station was shut down and locked up on the orders of Ferdinand Marcos — who also playfully decided to have the station’s president Eugenio Lopez Jr charged with plotting to assassinate him in the bargain.

Lopez broke out of the high security prison he was locked within and fled to the US in 1977 (and why isn’t this already an action thriller?). He reacquired and reopened the station after the Marcos regime was overthrown in 1986. His son Eugenio Lopez III is the current chair during this colourful bit of history repeating.

Maybe Lopez should preemptively bake some file-hiding prison cakes, just in case Duterte gets particularly nostalgic.


While humans are starting to enjoy the relaxation of COVID-themed isolation laws, travel restrictions are continuing within Queensland’s prawn community after white spot disease was discovered in two farms in the Logan region.

It’s a blow to the Moreton Bay area, which was just about to lift restrictions on trade in seafood after almost two clean years, despite the disease not being harmful to humans (and prawns being delicious).

And it’s a bit embarrassing for Biosecurity Queensland, which hasn’t had the greatest year of halting the spread of diseases — particularly in missing the probably-unstoppable spread of fall armyworm moth.

But at least it’s reassuring to know that prawns are having a lousy 2020 as well.

What this new crustacean lockdown means for the prawn pub scene, prawn tourism industry and international prawn airline travel could not be confirmed at press time.