HONG KONG POLICE CLAMP DOWN ON PROTESTERS
According to the ABC, Hong Kong police have fired water cannons, pepper spray and pellets at people protesting the new national security law passed by China this week.
Ahead of arresting more than 300 protesters, police for the first time cited the laws and specifically took umbrage with people “displaying flags or banners/chanting slogans/or conducting themselves with an intent such as secession or subversion, which may constitute offences under the … national security law”.
The laws, which China passed after protesters last year forced the Hong Kong government to back down on extradition legislation, can carry life sentences for serious anti-state crimes.
NOT JUST CHINA: As America’s Black Lives Matter rallies exceed their 30 day mark, The Intercept reports that the North Carolina city of Graham has banned protests for the foreseeable future, and threatened to arrest anyone who protests “without a permit”, as part of an effort to protect a Confederate monument that sits outside its courthouse.
OPERATION SOVEREIGN BORDERS, BUT NOT THOSE ONES
With 10 Melbourne postcodes now officially in lockdown — some of which The Guardian note fall across different sides of the same road — The Age reports that Scott Morrison will seek to end interstate border restrictions at tomorrow’s national cabinet meeting.
The news comes after NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard announced fines of up to $11,000 and six months jail for anyone caught travelling to the state from hotspot areas. And after excluding Victoria from their July 10 open border date, Queensland Labor has taken down an election attack ad warning that a LNP government would see the state “flooded with Victorians”.
BRING BACK THE BONK BAN? While it’s incumbent on the media to exercise non-judgmentalism over outbreaks that can be spread as easily as sharing a cigarette lighter, The Herald Sun ($) notes that the hotel inquiry will examine claims security staff slept with guests in isolation, amongst other allegations of misconduct i.e. understaffing aka “ghosting”.
NEW CLOSING THE GAP TARGETS
According to The Australian ($), the Morrison government will take a new Closing the Gap model to tomorrow’s national cabinet meeting that includes century-spanning goals and new design powers and funding for Indigenous organisations.
New goals for 2031 include closing the life-expectancy gap, increasing the proportion of tertiary-educated Indigenous youth to 70% — and hitting parity with non-Indigenous Australians by 2037 — and reducing Indigenous incarceration by at least 15%, with the incredibly-depressing parity date of 2093.
PS: According to AAP, the Northern Territory police officer charged with the murder of Indigenous teenager Kumanjayi Walker has been granted a suppression order against the publication of his address.
AUSTRALIA LIGHTLY ADDRESSES WEST BANK ANNEXATION
Amidst growing international pressure over Israel’s planned, illegal further annexation of the West Bank, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne has issued a resounding tepid statement urging “all parties to refrain from actions that diminish the prospects for a negotiated two-state solution, including acts of violence and terrorism including rocket attacks on civilians and land appropriations, demolitions, and settlement activity”.
Payne, who has yet to explain why Australia voted against a nigh-unanimous UN resolution condemning the annexation, said the government had raised concerns directly with Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi.
For now, the Israeli government has delayed the annexation amidst both a COVID-19 second wave and urgings from the White House to “slow down the process” first enabled through Donald Trump’s Middle East plan.
ACTUAL OPPOSITION: With European countries currently considering sanctions against Israel, Haaretz reports that former US presidential nominee Bernie Sanders has signed a public letter spearheaded by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calling to limit or withhold military aid if the Israeli government proceeds with the plan.
ROBODEBT 2.0: JOBKEEPER EDITION
Finally, The Guardian reports that a number of small business owners who started after January 1 and relied on JobKeeper throughout the pandemic have had future payments suspended by the tax office, and, further, been warned they may have to pay back payments.
Although the ATO had designed an alternative test for new businesses, a number of sole traders who started operating this year have been sent emails within the last week warning their “entity would not have assessable business income” from the 2018-19 financial year and therefore could not demonstrate the 30% required revenue loss.
Elsewhere, The Australian ($) reports that more than 50 bank accounts have now been frozen by the AFP as part of an investigation into organised crime groups allegedly rorting the three coronavirus payments: JobKeeper, JobSeeker, and early superannuation access.
PS: In a weird bit of irony, Services Australia has, again according to The Guardian, had to suggest an instalment plan for victims of the illegal Robodebt scheme that are entitled to larger compensation payouts.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
The President does read, and he also consumes intelligence verbally. This president, I’ll tell you, is the most informed person on planet earth when it comes to the threats that we face.
The White House press secretary alleges that Donald Trump, a man whose National Security Council strategically inserts his name into paragraphs to keep him from getting bored, is all over his daily intelligence briefs. None of which have ever suggested Russia put out bounties on US soldiers deployed in Afghanistan, no matter what The New York Times says.
“The GST commenced 20 years ago today, and within neoliberal circles there’s plenty of commemoration. The GST is — to use the lie of Peter Costello — the ‘last great reform’, the last time when politicians were bold reformers, in dire contrast to the wishy-washy current generation.
“The mass change in behaviour that helped keep our COVID-19 numbers down has had the side effect of limiting the spread of influenza. From the start of 2020 to May 31 (the latest data available) there have been just 36 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated deaths. There were 147 at the same time last year. “
“Hong Kong has become officially as unsafe for Australians as mainland China after the country’s rubber stamp parliament signed off on sweeping security laws designed to catch anyone Beijing does not like. The laws came into effect at 3pm, June 30.
“The new laws specifically state that foreigners either in Hong Kong or outside Hong Kong can break the laws — including via online comments.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Sounding a pandemic alarm over an increase in the number of refugees in detention — Melissa Sweet (Croakey): “The number of asylum seekers and refugees held in detention in Australia has risen during the novel coronavirus pandemic, despite multiple warnings from health and human rights organisations that numbers should be reduced to prevent the risk of a devastating outbreak. Commonwealth Ombudsman Michael Manthorpe reported the rise in numbers, though not their extent, in a statement released on 1 July following an investigation by his office into how detention facilities have acted to protect detainees during the pandemic.”
Albanese has most to fear from an Eden-Monaro fail ($) — Niki Savva (The Australian): “If Labor wins Saturday’s Eden Monaro by-election, Anthony Albanese should steal Scott Morrison’s line from last year’s election to declare it a miracle. Because that’s what it will be. Albanese lost an entrenched local member variously estimated to be worth between 1 and 3% of the vote only to then find himself pitted against a prime minister at his most popular, sporting a Teflon coat thanks to his handling of a pandemic that is putting the fear of god into people all over again because of the outbreak in Victoria.”
Shareholders helping to shift the dial towards principled profit — John Hewson (The Sydney Morning Herald): “The decision by Australia’s biggest polluter, AGL, to link executive bonuses to the achievement of climate goals is indicative of a growing trend that has seen shareholders act more like stakeholders and pressure companies to be more socially responsible. Given the systemic failure of Australia’s competition policy and much of our corporate regulation, this is a necessary and welcome market response to hold companies to account. But the government must also now step up to address these failures and ensure markets operate in a way that benefits everyone.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Former Speaker Peter Slipper will give evidence at a parliamentary inquiry into question time.
The COVID-19 inquiry will hear from economist groups — i.e. Australia Institute, Grattan Institute, IPA — as well as the Australian Council of Social Service.
Author Kate Grenville will launch her new book, A Room Made of Leaves, in a digital Wheeler Centre event.
RightTrack, GetUP, Amnesty and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre will host a Freedom from Detention online rally with people currently detained in Melbourne and Brisbane set to speak.