POLITICIANS COME FORWARD
Note: This story discusses sexual assault and suicide.
More politicians have come forward as having known about a historical rape allegation against a current cabinet minister before it became public last Friday, with Labor MP Daniel Mulino telling the ABC he was contacted by the alleged victim, a friend of his, in December 2019.
Liberal MP Celia Hammond was also sent a 31-page dossier outlining the allegations on Wednesday along with the offices of Scott Morrison, Labor’s Penny Wong, the Greens’ Sarah Hanson-Young and Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw. Hammond had been asked by Morrison to lead an inquiry into the Liberal party’s workplace culture following separate allegations, although that was later rolled in a broader, independent investigation.
Wong and Malcolm Turnbull were also contacted late in 2019 by the woman, neither of whom spoke to police at the time because the alleged victim made it clear she was already doing so. The New South Wales investigation was suspended after the woman died by suicide on June 24, 2020. The day before, she had told police she no longer wanted to proceed with the investigation.
As The Canberra Times reports, Greens leader Adam Bandt has called for Morrison to conduct his own independent inquiry, and temporarily stand aside the minister at the centre of the allegations, while Anthony Albanese would only say it was appropriate for the allegation to be investigated by police.
The news comes after Victorian Senator Sarah Henderson yesterday announced she had referred a separate rape allegation against an unnamed Labor MP to the AFP, while, over in America, a second former aide has accused New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment.
PS: Former Liberal staffer Dhanya Mani, who became friends with the woman after disclosing her own experience with alleged sexual assault in politics, has told Sky News the ABC breached the trust of the alleged victim’s family and friends after reporting specific details about the allegations on Friday, and that her friend wouldn’t have agreed with the “politicisation” of her story. Brittany Higgins has also hit out at Insiders guests “politicking” and “blame shifting” over her allegations.
According to The Australian ($), the aged care royal commission’s final report will be released today with more than 100 unanimous recommendations as well as several split along “philosophical” grounds, namely new funding models that would include either higher taxes or greater-user pay contributions.
Commissioner Tony Pagone is also believed to advocate for an independent administrative agency to sit outside the Health Department, on the view the federal government has failed to manage the sector, while commissioner Lynelle Briggs reportedly advocates that the government retain overall administrative functions.
Recommendations not in dispute include those outlined in October’s interim report related to home-care packages, over-reliance on chemical restraints, and preventing younger people with disabilities from having to move into aged care.
PS: In an preview of coming funding debates, prolific aged care researcher Anna Howe explains at The Conversation how an aged care levy linked to super and applied to only those nearing retirement could help redress some inequalities exacerbated by the Howard government’s slashing of super and retirement taxes.
Labor has dumped changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax from the final draft of its 2021 party platform, The Australian ($) reports, with franking credits already dumped ahead of the debate and finalisation of a final plan at the March 30 party conference.
In other opposition news, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Labor’s industrial relations spokesman Tony Burke wrote to the Attorney-General’s Department on February 18 to ask why the supposedly-neutral body provided figures to Christian Porter used to assert Labor’s plan to allow workers to transfer accumulated leave between jobs could cost employers $20 billion annually.
PS: And in news that will do nothing to quieten the press gallery’s endless leadership speculations, research conducted by media monitoring agency Streem for The Australian ($) shows that Tanya Plibersek’s metropolitan media mentions have risen by 371% since the start of this year compared with her daily average during the second half of last year, up on Defence Minister Linda Reynolds (266%) and Anthony Albanese (55%).
AT LEAST 18 KILLED IN MYANMAR
Myanmar police have shot dead at least 18 protesters in the bloodiest day of the military coup in weeks, the UN human rights office has announced, while the ABC notes that Myanmar’s UN envoy Kyaw Moe Tun has been fired for “betraying the country” after he called on the global body to reverse the coup by “any means necessary”.
Deposed elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi also faces her next court hearing today; her first, Bloomberg explained at the time, saw her appear earlier than scheduled and without representation, while her lawyer had been barred from speaking with her and had not been recognised by the court.
Elsewhere, Hong Kong police have detained 47 pro-democracy activists involved in unofficial election primaries and charged them with “conspiracy to commit subversion” under the national security laws introduced by China last year.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
Did you know that all of Victoria’s number plates are made at the Hopkins Correctional Centre in Ararat? This is a crucial part of rehabilitating prisoners and transitioning them back into society.
“After two years of at times excruciating evidence of systemic abuse inside the nation’s aged care homes the royal commission into aged care this morning handed its final report to the governor-general, having already flagged the need for sweeping change. Countering the widespread practice of chemical restraint is likely high on the commission’s priorities.
“But real change will mean attacking a culture built on a decades-long reliance on antipsychotic medications which have been used to manage the symptoms of dementia. It would also mean attacking the commercial interests of the pharmaceutical and aged care industries.”
“The long history of media policy in Australia is of governments looking after the big media proprietors at the expense of Australians. And the passage of the ‘news media bargaining code’ this week is another iteration of that history. In fact, it’s up there with the greatest rorts ever perpetrated by Australia’s media companies.
“New media technologies have always been the bane of media proprietors. Radio and then television disrupted newspapers. Subscription TV disrupted television. Digital transmission disrupted both. The internet, of course, disrupted everything.”
“What does the return of Jordan Peterson to the public stage portend? Is it yet another sign of the end-times, or an affirmation of the old truth that a travelling quack should be able to rip off the same town twice?
“Peterson, the global scourge of woke through his bestseller 12 Rules of Life ended up, readers may recall, in a coma in Russia having sought miracle medical treatment for pill addiction. Now he appears to have sorted himself out. Again.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
No satisfactory way to resolve historical rape allegation against minister — Michelle Grattan (The Conversation): “Scott Morrison has received a great deal of criticism over the government’s handling of then Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins’ allegation she was raped by a colleague in a minister’s office. Now, if it’s possible, he faces an even worse situation, following the airing of an historical claim made by a woman — who last year took her own life — that she was allegedly raped by a man who is presently a member of the federal cabinet.”
Skewed coverage as journos misread the three Cs: coal, China and climate ($) — Chris Mitchell (The Australian): “The most under-reported story last week was the one that led page four in The Australian on Tuesday: ‘Coal boom stokes $2b budget boost’. The article, by Geoff Chambers and Patrick Commins, said Australian thermal coal exports had defied China’s export bans to ‘deliver an additional $6b in annual export earnings’. The result not only defied the Chinese but also the tens of thousands of words written by Australian journalists in the past year forecasting the imminent collapse of thermal coal exports.”
Don’t rush into coercive control law: it may not prevent abuse and could even make it worse — Yvette Vignando (The Sydney Morning Herald): “The NSW campaign to make coercive control in domestic relationships a separate criminal offence is emotionally charged. Heartbroken families of murdered women are understandably among those passionately leading the way. But, sadly, if a law was introduced tomorrow it would not make women or their children safer. Indeed, for the most vulnerable or marginalised women in Australia, it could make things worse.”
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
The Golden Globes will be held today at 12pm AEDT