Parliament federal election
(Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

FURTHER ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT

Note: This story discusses sexual assault.

In the wake of Brittany Higgins’ rape allegations against a Liberal staffer, the ABC reports that a slew of other women in Canberra have come forward to report other sexual assault allegations within Parliament House and the public service. Two formal complaints have been made over Higgins’ alleged rapist, who has yet to be interviewed by police.

Elsewhere, a former Liberal adviser working for Craig Kelly has spoken to The Australian ($) over her allegations against his office manager Frank Zumbo, which include claims she was sexually harassed regularly in the MP’s private Sydney office and was subsequently hospitalised with stress and anxiety. The paper ($) also notes that Scott Morrison has cited the AFP’s direct warning to the PM yesterday — that allegations of criminal conduct should be reported “without delay” — to “set a new standard for his MPs”.

On the other side of the aisle, Guardian Australia reports that Labor’s draft national code of conduct proposes that allegations of sexual harassment, assault, and bullying within the party would be dealt with by officials outside Parliament, in order to encourage survivors to speak up, and mandate compulsory training for MPs, elected officials and senior staff.

1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732.

HE SAID SHE SAID?

Peter Dutton has threatened legal action against Greens Senator Larissa Waters for labelling him a “rape apologist” after the Home Affairs minister said the AFP did not provide him with the “she said, he said details” of Higgins’ rape allegations to the AFP.

In their report, 7News notably use Dutton’s framing of himself as a former sex crimes police officer who has said arrests of rapists were “amongst his proudest achievements”, rather than, say, his history of being forced by court order to fly pregnant rape survivors from Nauru to Australia for abortions, or later describing some as “trying it on” for supposedly making the trip and then deciding against the procedure.

PS: Dutton’s warning comes more than two years since he threatened to sue then-Victorian Labor minister Philip Dalidakis for alleging that Dutton suggested the Turnbull government “re-introduce a white-Australia discriminatory immigration policy”.

EMISSION STATEMENT

The global pandemic has seen Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions fall 4.4% in the 12 months to September last year, The Sydney Morning Herald reports, with new figures from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources showing emissions hit their lowest levels since 1995 after peaking in 2007 or — if you remove land-use data — 2019.

As figures begin to creep back up post-lockdown, and the Morrison government defies global warming, global pressure, and basic economics to bank the recovery on gas, RenewEconomy explains that separate, company-specific figures from the Clean Energy Regulator put AGL, EnergyAustralia and the Queensland government’s Stanwell Corporation as Australia’s top three emitters.

Today, federal independent advisory body Infrastructure Australia has called for a massive expansion of renewable energy zones and dispatchable energy sources (i.e. batteries and large-scale pumped hydro) across eastern states to secure future energy needs.

Additionally, Guardian Australia reports that conservation groups have savaged the Morrison government’s proposed environmental watchdog as a toothless tiger because it would have no power to investigate individual decisions and allow ministers to make decisions inconsistent with new standards if considered in the “public interest”.

DIRE EDUCATION

Finally, The Australian ($) reports that Education Minister Alan Tudge will today tell academics at Melbourne University that future government grants to the sector could be tied to commercialisation of research and, in a signal of changes to intellectual property laws, that universities need to engage in the creation of new industries, “sovereign capabilities and the great public policy challenges facing the country”.

The sector has shed thousands of jobs following the loss of international students last year and the Morrison government excluding all but private institutions from JobKeeper — although, as The Age notes, Melbourne University yesterday posted an $8 million surplus despite shedding 450 jobs. The government also slashed overall funding for teaching as part of its overhaul of subject fees — which, as 9News reported in December, failed to deter arts or communications students despite a 113% price hike.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

I wasn’t provided with the ‘she said, he said’ details of the allegation. It was at a higher level.

Peter Dutton

The guy who once claimed medivac would bring in alleged murderers, rapists and paedophiles and that Victorians live in fear of “African gang violence” opts for more equivocal language over a Liberal staffer’s alleged rape. Note: police had not actually spoken to the alleged perpetrator.

CRIKEY RECAP

Roll up! The greatest rort on earth is playing out in a company near you

“Step right up, every billionaire is a winner. There’s $100 billion up for grabs and winning is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.

“Welcome to the JobKeeper carnival, where some of Australia’s richest people are cashing in on a scheme designed to keep vulnerable workers in a job during the pandemic. A scheme so brilliant and yet so poorly designed that it’s fast becoming the biggest corporate welfare program in Australian history.”


Who’s going to call out JobKeeper rorting when everyone is in on the giggle?

“Given that the federal government can seemingly print money with gay abandon at the moment, it probably doesn’t really matter that the $100 billion JobKeeper program has been massively rorted.

“But surely the fiscal responsibility and law and order instincts of a Coalition government would mean widespread prosecution of rorters and enthusiastic campaigning to minimise participation in the scheme.”


How big pharma mugged Australia’s nursing homes and set up a deadly addiction

“Next time you go to a nursing home and are confronted with a sea of grey heads zonked out and near immobile, think of this name: risperidone, the Johnson & Johnson creation that became the go-to drug for nursing home administrators.

“The story of how risperidone, designed originally for schizophrenia, became widely used as a chemical restraint is a remarkable demonstration of the power of one drug company.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Elderly patients show no adverse reactions after being given incorrect dose of COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine

‘Get the trees back’: NSW minister wanted ‘clearance zone’ around highways after bushfires

Nationals ready to lead West Australian opposition ($)

Tears from Liberal MP Katie Allen and host Hamish Macdonald on Q+A into Australia’s failing aged care sector and Brittany Higgins rape allegations

‘See a problem, measure it, fix it’: Push for surveillance to fight hospital infections

WA election: Premier Mark McGowan and Liberal leader Zak Kirkup face off in heated leader’s debate

Brisbane is the ‘preferred host’ for 2032 Olympics, IOC announces

India, Pakistan agree to stop cross-border firing in Kashmir

Draft rules: Social media firms to reveal first originator of message, OTT to self-regulate, digital media to have grievance officer

THE COMMENTARIAT

A COVID ‘vaccine passport’ may further disadvantage refugees and asylum seekers —  Claire Loughnan and Sara Dehm (The Conversation): “While the government has since clarified that refugees and other people in immigration detention will be eligible for the vaccine, serious concerns remain about how the rollout will affect refugees within and outside of Australia, as well as the sizeable portion of people living “undocumented” (that is, without a valid visa) in Australia. Especially contentious is the use of so-called COVID passports.”

West Australian election: How long before the feds step in? ($) — Simon Benson (The Australian):Morrison’s key messaging has, is and will continue to be that the Coalition is the political emblem of stability and competence. Kirkup is telling WA voters that the Coalition in their state is not only incompetent but a joke. His green energy plans directly repudiate the pro-worker and pro-mining platform Morrison took to the 2019 federal election.”

Britain’s government has decided no one should police the policeMohamed Elmaazi (Jacobin): “One of the most disturbing pieces of legislation in living memory is making its way through the UK Houses of Parliament. If it becomes law — an increasingly likely prospect — this Covert Human Intelligence Sources bill (CHIS) will ‘authorise conduct by officials and agents of the security and intelligence services, law enforcement, and certain other public authorities, which would otherwise constitute criminality.’”

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Canberra

  • Josh Frydenberg will discuss the Retirement Income Review findings at the Council of the Ageing’s national policy forum at the National Press Club, to take in superannuation, pensions and housing.

Peter Fray

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