AUSTRALIAN ACADEMIC RELEASED
Following the release of Australian university lecturer Kylie Moore-Gilbert from prison in Iran, The Age reports the academic was originally detained after Iranian authorities discovered she was in a relationship with an Israeli citizen, a discovery that sparked baseless claims of spying for the Netanyahu government.
Moore-Gilbert, who was released yesterday in exchange for three Iranian men linked to a botched 2012 bomb plot in Bangkok, spent two years in prison after being detained at Tehran airport as she attempted to leave the country following an academic conference.
The Australian ($) has also revealed that the head of Australia’s intelligence community, Nick Warner, used back-channel contacts to negotiate with the Iranian regime for Moore-Gilbert’s release, while Australia’s ambassador to Thailand Allan McKinnon lobbied Thai officials to hand over the three Iranian terrorists.
WAR CRIMES FALLOUT CONTINUES
According to the ABC, at least 10 current SAS members implicated in the Afghanistan war crimes inquiry and suspected to have been “accessories” or “witnesses” to alleged murders carried out by other soldiers have received “show cause” notices from the Defence Department.
The soldiers facing possible expulsion were members of the now-disbanded 2 Squadron and the Regiment’s 3 Squadron, but are not among the 19 personnel who Justice Brereton recommended be referred to Federal Police.
In other fallout, The West Australian ($) reports that ADF chief General Angus Campbell could be stripped of the Distinguished Service Cross, given for his command of troops in Afghanistan, following a controversial decision to revoke the “meritorious group citation” for those who fought in the country between 2007 and 2013.
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CASE-ING THE JOINT
South Australia yesterday recorded two new COVID-19 cases, the ABC reports, both of whom are believed to be linked to the Parafield cluster.
The news comes as the government launches a new QR code app for businesses and, as AAP explains, following sweeping reforms to the state’s hotel quarantine system that will see anyone who tested positive, including returned travellers, moved to dedicated health facilities.
Elsewhere, The Age reports that another contact-tracing app for businesses should be rolled out in Victoria as early as next week.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
Governments in all positions make commitments to the community in order to curry favour. I think that’s part of the political process whether we like it or not.
The term pork-barrelling is common parlance … and it’s not something that I know that the community is comfortable with and if that’s the accusation made on this occasion … well then I’m happy to accept that commentary.
The premier that Crikey was just yesterday wondering whether any rules applied to re: the quarter-billion-dollar Stronger Communities Fund (and COVID-19 testing, and Daryl Maguire…) says the quiet part loud and proud.
“Antony Catalano’s Australian Community Media (ACM) was always going to do well from the government’s $50 million regional news package. Now we know just how well.
“This month the government announced ACM would receive $10.4 million of government funding — almost two-thirds of the $18 million put aside for publishers as part of the Public Interest News Gathering program, a grants scheme that was set up to help regional media businesses stay afloat during the pandemic.”
“The monumental theft being planned by the Australian government against Google and Facebook, and cheered on by Australian media companies, will take another step soon with the introduction of legislation for a ‘News Media and Digital Platforms Bargaining Code’ into parliament as the last sitting fortnight of the year begins next week.
“The code is a mechanism to steal what News Corp and the Nine Network hope will be at least hundreds of millions of dollars from the tech giants on the pretext that they make money from news content.”
“Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert has at long last been freed from an Iranian jail in a prisoner swap, after 804 days of detention.
“She was arrested in September 2018 in Tehran, where she was attending a conference, on suspicion of espionage.
“But Moore-Gilbert’s release does not mark the end of her ordeal. She’s expected to return home to Melbourne soon, where she will face a deluge of media attention and a long journey to recovery.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Narrabri gas project goes against all commercial odds — Madeline Taylor (The Sydney Morning Herald): “New gas projects are increasingly struggling to prove commercial viability. Santos has written $1.1 billion off the value of its gas investments this year alone, leaving questions as to whether the company will be able to fund the $3.6 billion Narrabri project. The federal government approval for the new Narrabri site represents a 20-year development at a time when there is increasing commercial uncertainty for new gas projects producing expensive gas.”
Too many pull losing tickets from a super fund lottery ($) — Jane Hume (The Australian): “Now ASFA is back in the fray with a letter condemning the performance benchmarks in the Your Future, Your Super package and signed by a group of super fund chief investment officers and investment managers — exactly those whose performance will be under greater scrutiny as a result of the government’s reforms.”
Kylie Moore-Gilbert has been released. But will a prisoner swap with Australia encourage more hostage-taking by Iran? — Ian Parmeter (The Conversation): “Iranian state media has shown pictures of the academic with Australian embassy officials in Tehran, juxtaposed with film of three Iranian men being welcomed by Iranian officials, apparently at Tehran’s airport. The Iranian media says she was exchanged for an Iranian ‘economic activist’ and two Iranian citizens, who had been detained ‘abroad on trumped-up charges’.”
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
Writer Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai will discuss her new novel The Mountains Sing in an Avid Reader webinar.
The Australian Human Rights Commission will host webinar “Balancing Human Rights and COVID-19” with Dr Michael Kidd, Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Principal Medical Advisor; Professor Robynne Quiggin, Associate Dean (Indigenous Leadership and Engagement), University of Technology Sydney; Professor Sarah Joseph, Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash University; and Hugh de Kretser, Executive Director, Human Rights Law Centre.