banner draped from hotel balcony protesting immigration detention
Immigration detainees protest in Brisbane, May 8, 2020 (Image: AAP/Dan Peled)

Chevron attempts to pull focus with a bit of corporate compassion, and this government never spotted a stacking opportunity it didn’t like. Catch up with all the latest tips and murmurs from the Crikey bunker.

Peter Dutton’s Australia

Given that what we know about police excesses is at least as much down to civilians with mobile phones as it is to journalists, a tipster has reminded us of a few things regarding another national shame — the treatment of asylum seekers in detention, and the attempts to keep that from our view.

Mobile phone footage has been one of the primary ways detainees have revealed unrest and mistreatment in detention centres. Which we’re sure has nothing to do with the renewed push to ban them.

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After a failed attempt in 2018, the government is trying once again to get mobile phones banned in detention centres.

In the era of COVID, face-to-face visitors aren’t allowed.

“This means no witnesses, and makes the phones even more important for the people in detention to maintain contact with their families and friends, as well as a protection against abusive violence,” our tipster said.

The big stack

Over the weekend, former prime minister Tony Abbott — fresh from telling pint-swilling country wrecker Nigel Farage that refugees in Australia amounted to a “peaceful invasion” — received a Companion of the Order of Australia.

Apart from the fairly sickening irony of what he was nominally getting it for, we note that the Queen’s Birthday honours this year was packed with Liberal party figures (plus a couple of Nats): Bronwyn Bishop, Mike Baird, Philip Ruddock, Denis Napthine, John Vogels, Ron Boswell, Naomi Wilson, Andrew Burnes, Bruce Scott, Lawrence Springborg, Denver Beanland, Morry Bailes, Paul Zammit and Alan Ferguson.

Seems this government loves stacking award recipients with their mates as much as they do the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the Fair Work Commission.

Corporate compassion

Ah, cynical and tone deaf, the Lennon and McCartney of corporate communications. If it’s world anything day, you can bet your house that at least one company is going to pop up and hope some words in favour will drown out the cacophony of actions against.

And so it was on World Environment Day last Friday, when Western Australian school students were “encouraged to explore the environment by photographing WA’s biodiversity” as part of fossil fuel company Chevron’s 2020 Focus Environment Competition.

We’re sure that has nothing to do with pulling focus away from all those climate change lawsuits.

All apologies

Australian cartooning’s master of the grotesque David Rowe pushed buttons for all the wrong reasons over the weekend, with a depiction of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg with a hook nose, a cloth cap resembling a yarmulke and carrying a dollar sign harpoon. On the most charitable estimation, it could have done with a couple more drafts.

The Australian Financial Review issued an apology/defence on Monday night (Frydenberg contacted Rowe to accept). It put us in mind of a couple of other apologies for the ages.

Last month, The Sunday Telegraph issued a “a genuine and public apology” to Silverchair lead singer Daniel Johns and his family, for a piece incorrectly reporting that Johns had been seen “swaggering” out of Sydney brothel The Kastle.

In 2014, The Sydney Morning Herald issued an apology for a cartoon by former Crikey cartoonist Glen Le Lievre, which was accused of invoking Nazi imagery to criticise Israel’s shelling of Gaza.

Fox Sports also issued a groveling apology last month for a segment making it appear that one of the cardboard cutouts in the fake NRL crowd was (guys, come on…) Adolf Hitler.

Expect more from your journalism.

Crikey is an independent Australian-owned and run outfit. It doesn’t enjoy the vast resources of the country’s main media organisations. We take seriously our responsibility to bear witness.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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