CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
According to the ABC and The Age, counsel assisting the Lawyer X royal commission have accused Victoria’s former top cop Graham Ashton of seeking to justify potential “noble cause” corruption within his ranks and failing to ensure officers acted ethically and within the law.
After more than a year investigating the nature of the relationship between barrister-turned-informer Nicola Gobbo and the police force, lawyers assisting the commission have submitted that her role could have tarnished the legal case of Melbourne gangster Tony Mokbel and that a number of police officers — their identities blacked-out — committed criminal offences.
In other police news, The Guardian reports that Queensland officer, Senior Constable Neil Punchard, who leaked the address of a domestic violence survivor to her abuser, has had his conviction overturned and suspended sentence downgraded to 140 hours of community service.
Finally, the ABC reports that the committal hearing into the Alice Springs cop charged with the murder of Yuendumu teenager Kumanjayi Walker has been shown footage of Walker running at police with an axe days before the fatal police shooting.
PS: On the military end of things, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Australian Federal Police obtained eyewitness accounts implicating former soldiers Ben Roberts-Smith in war crimes while serving in Afghanistan. The revelation comes amidst a defamation case against the Nine newspapers’ reporting into Roberts-Smith’s alleged role in the death of farmer Ali Jan, an Afghan man allegedly kicked off a cliff while handcuffed and then shot dead in September 2012.
THE STATE OF THINGS
The ABC reports that the Andrews government’s planned six month extension of the state of emergency has passed the upper house, a win that follows a marathon sitting and secures just half the length of their original plan to extend the powers for a full year.
The law passed 20 votes to 19 at 1.56am this morning, due in part to Greens’ Samantha Ratnam, who briefly returned to vote while on maternity leave, and Reason Party’s Fiona Patten and Animal Justice Party’s Andy Meddick, both of whom The New Daily yesterday reported have received a wave of anti-lockdown abuse from conspiracy theorists.
The win comes as Dan Andrews prepares to outline dual roadmaps for reopening Greater Melbourne and regional Victoria on Sunday, and amidst declining cases but concerns of low testing rates, deliberations with businesses over the “traffic light system” of alert levels, and government hopes that the spring racing carnival could still go ahead in Melbourne.
PS: Looking ahead to that eventual recovery, The Age reports that the Morrison government is planning on giving nurses, CEOs, and software engineers exemptions to bypass national border restrictions under a new skilled migration recovery plan.
PPS: The ABC also reports that Scott Morrison has called for state restrictions to be eased in time for Christmas, a request we’re confident the deadly virus will respect.
AGAINST THE GRAIN
According to the ABC, Australia’s largest grain exporter, CBH Grain, has told growers it has been suspended from sending barley to China amidst escalating tensions between the two countries.
Reuters reports that China’s General Administration of Customs, in announcing the decision on its WeChat account, claimed barley shipments were halted after pests were found on multiple occasions, although CBH’s message argues that, in relation to earlier warnings, it “has not found any evidence to support these claims” and that “cargoes were all retested and it was confirmed that all cargoes met Australian Government phytosanitary export requirements”.
Elsewhere, The Guardian reports that officials at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have warned that COVID-19 has fuelled protectionist and authoritarian trends around the world, specifically China’s takeover of Hong Kong. See also: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán granting himself powers earlier this year to rule by decree for an indefinite length of time.
PS: In a separate proud moment for Australia, The Guardian reports that Tony Abbott has railed against “health dictatorships” in a speech to London think tank the Policy Exchange. Note that Abbott was not referring to the genuine dictatorships, just lockdown measures.
STATE WRAP: QUEENSLAND’S TOURISM BLITZ
- The Queensland government is running a massive tourism splurge, with announcements this week including:
- Two resumed Jetstar flights — Adelaide to Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast to Cairns — due in part to the state’s $15 million Aviation Recovery Fund
- An $11.3 million tourism package for Far North Queensland projects, events and Reef Fleet operators
- As The Courier-Mail ($) reports today, dozens of new and upgraded state tourist attractions, fast-tracked to open by Christmas following more than $300m injected by the private sector and the state government.
- A 50km-wide “single border region” will be reinstated across the NSW-Victorian border from Friday, with residents and local businesses to operate under a new “border region resident” permit system
- The NSW government yesterday announced plans for a fly-in fly-out psychology and telepsychology service of 16 permanent senior psychologists to support students in regional and remote parts of NSW under the state’s $88.4 million mental health package
- The South Australian government has launched an $88 million JobTrainer package, to include $53.5 million from the state government
- Finally, the ACT government will extend its “Jobs for Canberrans” public sector employment program — targeted at residents who lost their job due to COVID-19 and are ineligible for JobKeeper — by a further $500,000.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
[Asked who’s ‘pulling Joe Biden’s strings’]: People that you’ve never heard of, people that are in the dark shadows … There are people that are on the streets, there are people that are controlling the streets. We had somebody get on a plane from a certain city this weekend. And in the plane, it was almost completely loaded with thugs, wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms, with gear and this and that.
The US president attempts to create yet another conspiracy theory over his Democratic rival, when the boring old truth is that Joe Biden has benefited from nothing more than millions in health insurance donations, a weapons industry lobbyist-turned-adviser, and a cabal of rich benefactors he once assured “nothing would fundamentally change” if he won.
“The first of the tech giants has called the bluff equally of the federal government and old media, with Facebook announcing today that it will stop allowing Australian publishers and users from sharing local and international news on Facebook and Instagram if a proposed code requiring Facebook pay for news posts becomes law.”
“Much has been made of Liberal MP Dave Sharma’s next-level investment portfolio, and his talent for picking stocks has clearly not faded during the economic crisis. Sharma, a big believer in the tech sector, has managed to back some of the biggest winners of the Australian tech market, many of which are thriving during the pandemic.”
“About August 12 Cheng Lei, a Beijing-based, Chinese-born Australian news anchor who has been working for state-run broadcaster CGTN for some years, disappeared.
“Shortly afterwards it emerged that her home had been raided and her computers removed at the time, her friends and family are trying to ascertain where she has been detained since then. Her social media footprint has since been all but scrubbed.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Snapback — Sean Kelly (The Monthly): “One of the elements of this story of a changing world involved the sharp shift of governments everywhere into an embrace of ‘socialism’. In Australia, around the end of March, Scott Morrison made a series of announcements, spending unprecedented billions to support families and prop up businesses. Childcare became free. We had, very suddenly, a planned economy. A conservative government had turned its back on what were taken to be conservative principles.”
Dan’s plan is coming but so is Christmas ($) — Jennifer Hewett (AFR): “Daniel Andrews is determined to hold to his hard lockdown line a while yet, no matter the ominous warnings of an alarmed federal Treasurer. Josh Frydenberg is clearly frustrated the Premier refuses to acknowledge the escalating costs of Victoria’s approach or to offer a more definitive timetable or description of an exit route. But he has been unable to do anything much about it beyond ramping up his loud criticism while quietly preparing to shovel a lot more cash to the residents of his home state.”
Rebuilding the economy will require Joe Biden to think very differently than 2009 — James K. Galbraith (The Intercept): “Joe Biden’s invocation of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, in the opening words of his convention acceptance speech, offered a flash of hope that, in broad terms, the Democratic nominee has grasped the scale of the COVID-19 crisis. Yet before Biden even spoke, the head of his transition team, former Sen. Ted Kaufman, undercut that hope, telling the Wall Street Journal that, in effect, Biden didn’t mean it.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Head of Systems Modelling, Simulation & Data Science at University Of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre Jo-An Atkinson, and chair of the Australian National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety Sam Mostyn will present “The impact of COVID-19 on the Mental Wealth of Australia”, a discussion on mental health modelling, at the National Press Club.
The Australian National Audit Office and attorney-general’s department are set to speak at the sports rorts inquiry.
Victoria’s COVID-19 hotel quarantine inquiry continues today.
Gold Coast, Queensland
Former treasurer Wayne Swan will address a CFO conference.
Former president of Timor-Leste and 1996 Nobel Peace Prize laureate José Ramos-Horta and prosecuted barrister for Witness K and former ACT attorney-general Bernard Collaery will speak at the Australia Institute’s latest webinar event, “East Timor, Oil and Secret Prosecutions”.