Border Force

YET ANOTHER BORDER FARCE

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, reports that a corruption investigation into Border Force’s $573 million Cape-class patrol boats contract has created multiple divisions within the federal anti-corruption agency running the inquiry, the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity.

ACLEI, which is investigating Border Force over allegations it funnelled $39 million from a national security project to defence company Austal in order to prop up its financial position, has reportedly seen planned hearings scrapped, counsel assisting removed, and claims it is a toothless tiger.

As The Mandarin explains, the news comes as the Morrison government defends against claims it is delaying plans for a Commonwealth Integrity Commission, with Attorney General Christian Porter claiming legal complexities such as retrospectivity mean the government was “not inclined” to release draft legislation during the pandemic.

In unrelated news, The Guardian reports that acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge has appealed a federal court ruling that he engaged in “criminal” conduct by detaining an asylum seeker granted a visa by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

PS: The Sydney Morning Herald also reports that senior advisers from Gladys Berejiklian’s office have been called before a parliamentary inquiry to explain “why the premier handed out $250 million in council grants without any signed paperwork”.

SCHOOL’S OUT FOR PRESTON

According to the ABC, East Preston Islamic College in the Melbourne northern suburb of Preston will be closed for the rest of the week after a year 5 student tested positive for COVID-19, with residents of surrounding suburbs now urged to get tested if they have symptoms. The state’s health department has also issued an updated list of exposure sites in Shepparton.

Elsewhere, the Herald Sun ($) reports that Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville has has confirmed she has been ordered by the hotel quarantine inquiry to submit a sworn statement over a phone call with an unidentified person at the premier’s office, made in the minutes leading up to the decision to use private security.

And in advance of businesses reopening with indoor dining restrictions, the Andrews government has announced that venues can use existing outdoor spaces — such as streets, footpaths, carparks and nearby parks and public land — without the need for a planning permit. However, according to The Agethe need to comply with council by-laws could render the promise unworkable.

NO, IT’S THE CHILDREN WHO ARE WRONG.

The New Daily reports that, LNP leader Deb Frecklington has made an election pledge to create curfews in Townsville and Cairns for young people, a plan that would include slapping parents with $250 fines if children are found out at night “without a reasonable excuse”.

Critics point out that the curfew would disproportionately target Indigenous teenagers or kids from disadvantaged homes — Townsville, notably, has recorded white supremacist “vigilantes” targeting Indigenous youth — while Amnesty announced the policy may breach international law.

Elsewhere, The Guardian reports that Coalition senators Matt Canavan and Eric Abetz, former deputy prime minister John Andersonm, and News Corp columnist Miranda Devine have endorsed Toowoomba doctor David van Gend for LNP pre-selection, despite his support for conversion therapy — a process the International Rehabilitation for Torture Victims considers torture — and opposition to abortion and climate science.

POLICE NATION

On the topic of law and order, yesterday saw multiple stories of police abuse:

  • Footage obtained by 7.30 shows still-serving NSW officer Jeames Iain Murray assaulting an Indigenous man in custody on January 12, 2019. The officer has now been convicted of assault and fined, but remains on restricted duties as NSW Police reviews his employment status.
  • NSW Police have closed a review into a group of Newcastle police officers who were filmed hitting, kicking, and pepper spraying a cyclist they arrested last weekend for crossing a level crossing ahead of an approaching tram, not wearing an approved bicycle helmet, and allegedly resisting arrest (Newcastle Herald $).
  • FOI documents obtained by the ABC show Victoria Police brought family violence charges against just 82 officers between 2015 and 2019, but only one was found guilty and none had convictions recorded. The news follows the ABC’s investigation into how police failing to take action against colleagues who commit domestic violence is fuelling a culture of impunity in forces across the country.

MOMENT OF TRUTH: MORE TAX STUFF!

The latest New York Times ($) investigation into Donald Trump’s tax history has unearthed bank accounts in China, Britain and Ireland held under corporate names.

The Chinese account is reportedly controlled by Trump International Hotels Management LLC, and has paid more than US$180,000 in taxes to China from 2013 to 2015; this is significantly more than the $750 he paid in US federal income taxes during the first year of his presidency, and the zero dollars he paid in 10 of the past 15 years.

Elsewhere, The Daily Poster reports that Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett has doubled-down on climate denialism and refused to commit to recusing herself from cases involving oil companies, despite recusing herself as a lower-court judge from cases involving Shell Oil because her father worked at the company as a top attorney for decades.

Finally, in news that would make Peter Dutton blush, NBC reports that lawyers appointed to identify migrant families separated by the Trump administration say they cannot find the parents of 545 children, about two-thirds of whom were deported to Central America without their children.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

I wish they had approached my position as they approached Gladys. I would probably be in a different position if they had, but good luck to her.

Barnaby Joyce

The former deputy prime minister throws a pity party over the “real jihad” he faced over his romantic tryst in 2018 ($), while failing to note that he went a touch further than an affair by approving two newly-created MP jobs for his former staffer/current partner Vikki Campion.

CRIKEY RECAP

Why News Corp is a cancer on our democracy only a royal commission can excise

“As a Crikey subscriber, you hardly need convincing about the threats that media monopolies pose to democracy.

“You already know that, as James Murdoch says, News Corp’s output is rife with hidden agendas and disinformation designed to confuse public debate.

“You know that News Corp is no longer interested in reporting facts. It operates like a mafia syndicate with a well-funded protection racket for politicians who back its commercial interests and espouse hard-right ideology on issues like climate change.”


No, Mathias, there’s nothing ‘normal’ about the cosy COVID commission

“Where does the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) end and the National COVID-19 Commission begin?

“That’s the question being asked after another eye-opening appearance by commission chair, former Fortescue boss Nev Power, at Senate estimates yesterday.

“Power, appearing alongside Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, faced questions about the commission’s high-level access to cabinet documents and ministers, including aboard Power’s private plane.”


It just got easier for tattooed Australians to give blood, but for gay men the wait goes on

“Inked-up Aussies can now walk straight from the tattoo parlour to a blood donation centre to give plasma. Gay men, on the other hand, still have to remain celibate for a year before donating — even if they’re married or monogamous.

“The new rules for tattooed Australians came into effect earlier this month as the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood tries to pull new donors — especially those who aren’t afraid of needles — into its centres amid dwindling donations during the pandemic.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Alleged Vatican payments linked to George Pell case referred to Victorian corruption watchdog

Child’s suicide prompts WA Police admission accused sex offender’s bail should have been opposed

Pope Francis pushes new boundaries and expresses support for same-sex civil unions

Retail sales offer ‘cautious optimism’ for Christmas shopping season

ASIO warns MPs they are potential targets for foreign interference

Crown’s ex-chair Rankin faces ASIC referral over China arrests, Packer threat

ACCC puts News Corp on notice that it’s closely watching newswire duel

Senior Army officer admits to inquest there were ‘warning flags’ before death of PTSD soldier

THE COMMENTARIAT

Scott Morrison’s excuses for failing to establish a federal integrity commission don’t hold waterKatharine Murphy (The Guardian): “The speaker of the House of Representatives, Tony Smith, didn’t like Anthony Albanese’s opening jab in question time on Wednesday: ‘where the bloody hell’ was the federal integrity body the government has long been promising but serially failing to deliver? The speaker thought Albanese’s framing was ‘ironical’ (and possibly provocative, given ‘where the bloody hell’ was a marketing line developed during the prime minister’s Tourism Australia days).”

PM must replace Linda Reynolds with Peter Dutton at Defence ($) — Greg Sheridan (The Australian): “When he comes to do his cabinet reshuffle, probably early or mid-December, Prime Minister Scott Morrison should move Linda Reynolds out of Defence and replace her with Peter Dutton. Defence industry has been alive with rumours that both Reynolds and the Defence Industry Minister, Melissa Price, were likely to be moved. Now a widespread view in the government is that replacing Reynolds with Dutton would be the best move, but it’s unlikely to happen.”

AEMO leads global push for $10 trillion of investment in next 10 years to slash emissionsKetan Joshi (RenewEconomy): “Between various energy forecasts of the coming decades, one consistent trend emerges: in power systems around the world, renewables — wind and solar — will grow far faster than has been previously predicted. The economics have changed at breakneck pace over the past decade, meaning these technologies are now the default replacement for existing coal and gas-fired power stations. That means more effort is needed to ensure grids are upgraded and updated to suit new forms of energy technology.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • Peter Dutton, department secretary Michael Pezzullo, Malcolm Turnbull and Kevin Rudd will address the SMH/Age virtual National Security Summit.

  • Senate estimates will hear from Australia Post and Australia Council; Attorney-General portfolio; Finance; and Agriculture.

Melbourne

  • In the Wheeler Centre’s latest digital event, “Creative Careers”, Liminal magazine founder and PhD student Leah Jing McIntosh, and journalist and documentary filmmaker Santilla Chingaipe will discuss the changing landscape of the arts in Australia in conversation with Footscray High School student Felix Briggs.

  • The Lost Dogs Home will run webinar event, “Helping your dog cope with your return to work”.

Peter Fray

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