BRANCH STACKING SCANDAL FALLOUT CONTINUES
As The Age reports, former Victorian premier Steve Bracks and federal frontbencher Jenny Macklin have been appointed administrators of Victorian Labor until January 31, 2021, after Premier Dan Andrews called on the national executive to take over state and federal preselections and suspend the voting rights of every member.
With The Age today calling for a federal ICAC — and the branch stacking scandal now claiming a third scalp in Marlene Kairouz — Attorney-General Christian Porter has told the paper he plans to restart talks on the Commonwealth Integrity Commission to gauge support from crossbenchers who consider the planned body a toothless tiger.
In news that does little to allay those concerns, The Guardian reports that both Jacqui Lambie and the Greens consider a separate bid to reimpose weaker political donations laws — one Labor is currently negotiating with the Coalition over — a Trojan horse for developer donations banned by states.
PS: In yet another expense scandal, The Guardian reports that Pauline Hanson charged taxpayers for a three-day Perth fundraising spree, one that attracted support from white supremacist group the Proud Boys.
DEADLY BORDER CLASH BETWEEN CHINA AND INDIA
Following a weeks-long standoff between India and China over a disputed border site in the western Himalayas, Al Jazeera reports that the deadliest clash in decades has killed 20 members of the Indian army.
The army said in a statement late on Tuesday that the two sides “have disengaged” from the disputed Galwan area — where both countries accused the other of crossing boundaries — while Reuters reports that India’s foreign ministry added that there had been casualties on both sides.
WHAT OF AUS-CHINA?: As the ABC reports, the Morrison Government is planning an anti-disinformation taskforce, after Foreign Minister Marise Payne accused Russia, China and Turkey of pushing manipulative online material and “using the pandemic to undermine liberal democracy and promote their own, more authoritarian models”.
TRUMP OFFERS MODEST CHANGE
As Black Lives Matter protests coalesce around demands to defund police departments and remove colonial statues, CNN reports that Donald Trump has signed an executive order offering more modest change — i.e. a national certification system for law enforcement agencies and a database to better track police brutality — while Republicans prepare to announce a larger police reform package.
The news — which Trump qualified with defence of police and a weird defence of black unemployment rates — comes after:
- members of a far right militia group were arrested in Albuquerque over the shooting of a demonstrator, who, at the time, was advocating for the removal of a monument to a Spanish conquistador
- lawyers for the 75-year-old Buffalo protester NYPD police were filmed shoving to the ground say he has a fractured skull and cannot walk
- the US Press Freedom Tracker has now received more than 400 reports of press freedom violations since protests began
IN SOME LOCAL POLICE NEWS…
On the domestic side of things, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that an Aboriginal teenager is suing the state of NSW over assault allegations after footage emerged of an officer appearing to strike the teen in the head as he was walked home in Casino last year.
It comes after SA Police announced an internal investigation after footage emerged of an officer repeatedly striking a detained 28-year-old Aboriginal man, Noel Henry, who they allege was arrested over suspicion of possession but, after being arrested, has been released with no charge.
OVERDUE REFORM: In important (if belated) reform news, WAToday reports that a bill ending the practice of imprisoning people for overdue fines — a practice that overwhelmingly punishes Indigenous women — yesterday passed Western Australia’s upper house.
NEW ZEALAND SUSPENDS COMPASSIONATE QUARANTINE EXEMPTIONS
New Zealand has suspended compassionate exemptions from forced quarantine after a 24-day period of no new domestic cases was broken by two recent arrivals from the UK (via Brisbane) leaving a facility without essential health checks.
As Stuff reports, Jacinda Ardern notes that the country was always going to see more cases as people returned from overseas, but that “expectations have not been met” after the two women — who officials stress did nothing wrong themselves — were granted compassionate exemptions to leave the facility with a strict safety plan but without being tested.
GLOBAL CASES PASS 8 MILLION: In a reminder of just how lucky the Tasman countries have been, Beijing is grappling with a second wave; Brazil’s official death toll has hit 44,000 overnight; and Bloomberg reports that, as India unwinds lockdown measures that wrecked the economy but were not enough to “flatten the curve”, the country of 1.3 billion faces projections of 800,000 total cases by July.
STATE WRAP: ANOTHER MILLION ANNOUNCEMENTS
Quietly, please let’s scratch what we said yesterday about major state announcements slowing down:
- Yesterday, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the second phase of the state’s Economic Recovery Strategy, which includes more than $450 million in “further measures for small business, for tradies, for farmers, for first home buyers, for seniors, for cabbies, for the tourism industry, and for artists and musicians”.
- As the ABC reports, the Western Australian government is holding firm on a hard border closure after South Australia announced that, from midnight last night, the state would allow travellers from WA, Tasmania and the NT to travel without a 14 day quarantine.
- The Victorian government pledged an extra $23 million to support Aboriginal Australians throughout the pandemic, to include:
- $10 million to establish the Aboriginal COVID-19 Response Fund, to give local organisations immediate support for emergency relief, outreach and brokerage, social and emotional wellbeing initiatives over the next year.
- $13 million over two years to meet an increase in Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation service demand, to provide support for Elders, homelessness services, and housing, education, and health services.
- The South Australian government announced that all suburban Adelaide shops and supermarkets will be allowed to continue trading under extended hours for at least another month.
- In three public transport announcements:
- the ACT government will, from Saturday, 18 July roll-out a suspended public transport upgrade of 692 extra bus services each weekday, or a 17.5% increase;
- NSW announced that public transport peak capacity will double from July 1; and
- Victoria has hired more than 300 tram sanitisers through the “Working for Victoria” initiative to boost cleaning services.
- Finally, libraries in Tasmania will reopen doors for browsing, borrowing and public computer access from tomorrow, Thursday June 18.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
These protesters are putting people at risk, including the detainees — the very people they claim to care about.
The acting immigration minister is definitely worried that Brisbane protesters could infect a group of Manus refugees crammed into a Kangaroo Point hotel. If only there was something somebody, anybody, could do about this health risk…
“After an extended period of optimism about an imminent recovery from pandemic lockdown, sharemarkets in the United States and Australia finally succumbed last week to the realisation that any recovery will be slow and grinding.”
“Indigenous history is supposed to be incorporated into students’ high school education, although recent comments by Scott Morrison shows perhaps it’s not taught as well as it should be.
“Vague learning goals and descriptions in the curriculum have left educators confused and concerned students’ learning is being whitewashed. “
“‘Something is happening, but you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr Jones?’ Nobel laureate Bob Dylan warned journalists half a century ago in ‘Ballad of a Thin Man’.”
“This past week’s carry-on — from Gone with the Wind to the Cook statues and on to Basil Fawlty — is best understood as that sudden moment when all the Mr Jones in Australia’s media discovered that somehow a major cultural reset has been going on without them.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Five Eyes largely blind to COVID threat, so why deepen economic ties? — Brian Toohey (The Sydney Morning Herald): “The key countries comprising the ‘Five Eyes’ electronic espionage group have made an abysmal hash of handling the economic and health impacts of COVID-19. Yet the Australian government has chosen this Anglo-Saxon relic to develop a ‘strategic’ economic response to the COVID-19 crisis.”
Lawyers want a bigger slice of class actions ($) — Jennifer Hewett (AFR): “This [fight] is over a bill before state parliament to allow legal firms the right to charge contingency fees in the booming and lucrative arena of class actions. Not surprisingly, this is also championed by Maurice Blackburn and Slater and Gordon, two Melbourne-based legal firms that have helped spearhead the growth of class actions.”
The US government kills black people with impunity both at home and abroad — Robtel Neajai Pailey and Amy Niang (The Nation): “In early February of this year, 18-year-old Nurto Kusow Omar Abukar was blown to smithereens by American air strikes as she sat down for dinner with her family in Jilib, Somalia. Hurled indiscriminately by the US Africa Command (Africom) in its hunt for al-Shabaab militants, the bombs also injured Abukar’s younger sisters Fatuma, age 12, and Adey, age seven, as well as their 70-year-old grandmother, Khadija Mohamed Gedow.“
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham will deliver “Trading Australia towards the future” at the National Press Club.
Academic and economist Stephanie Kelton will discuss her new book on the role of the critical deficit spending, The Deficit Myth, as part of the Australia Institute’s Economics of a Pandemic series.
First Nations people and environmental activists will protest outside NSW Parliament House to call for an immediate halt to logging of native forests.
The shortlist for the 2020 Miles Franklin Literary Award will be released live on YouTube.