empty-house-of-representatives
(Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

PRIVACY PLEASE

Queensland Liberal MP Andrew Laming will not recontest the next federal election following allegations that he took a photo up a woman’s skirt, with Guardian Australia reporting he has pleaded for privacy, has been ordered to take “empathy training”, and will become the third MP to take mental health leave.

Labor has called for the member for Bowman to resign entirely, a move that would plunge the Coalition into minority government, however Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told ABC’s Insiders that any decisions on expulsions are up to the state LNP and that he considers Laming to remain a “fit and proper” person to be an MP.

Also speaking to Insiders, Liberal backbenchers Katie Allen and Sarah Henderson both called for drug and alcohol testing as part of cultural reforms at Parliament House.

On the other side of the aisle, Labor has referred an anonymous historical sexual ­assault allegation against a senior Labor figure to the Australian Federal Police, which The Australian ($) reports was referred despite party representatives believing the complaint to be not credible and politically motivated.

Elsewhere, Liberal senator Jim Molan has used his government Facebook account to label a grieving mother’s petition for a royal commission into veteran suicides as “disingenuous”, “duplicitous” and “very apple pie”, New Matilda reports.

And the latest Newspoll ($) has Scott Morrison’s personal approval rating down seven points to 55% satisfaction, while the two-party preferred vote remains 48-52 to Labor.

PS: Ahead of the first digital ALP national conference starting tomorrow, The Australian ($) reports that Anthony Albanese plans to make sexual violence and women’s safety a focus at the event, while other factional debates cover nuclear energy, an anti free trade motion from the Electrical Trades Union, and an attempt “by the right faction to water down the party’s push to recognise Palestine as a state and to call out issues with China’s policies on Hong Kong, Tibet and the persecution of ­Uighurs”.

1800 Respect: 1800 737 732; Lifeline: 13 11 14.

MISSING LINK

Scott Morrison has agreed to Annastacia Palaszczuk’s request to halve Queensland’s intake of international arrivals for two weeks to ease pressure on hospitals. The ABC adds that Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young believes a now inactive case recorded yesterday seems to be the “missing link” between the man’s brother, who tested positive to the UK variant last Thursday, and a doctor who worked at the Princess Alexandra Hospital and tested positive in early March.

Queensland police have also shut an investigation into another Brisbane man who tested positive Saturday, after wrongly claiming he had a party with 25 guests after he was identified as a close contact; there were only five in the house, most of whom were housemates.

Queensland Health currently lists six close contact hotspots:

  • Saturday, March 20
    • Shinobi Ramen Noodle shop, Westfield Carindale Shopping Centre; 12-2:16pm
    • Black Hops Brewery in East Brisbane; 12:22- 1:51pm
    • Green Beacon Brewing Co. in Teneriffe; 2-3:12pm
    • Eatons Hill Hotel in Eatons Hill; 3:44-5:30pm
  • Sunday, March 21
    • Mamma’s Italian Restaurant in Redcliffe; 12:30-3:10pm
  • Monday, March 22
    • PCYC Pine Rivers in Bray Park; 7:16-8:10am

There are also 19 casual contact sites, which fall as recently as Thursday March 25 and cover additional suburbs including Alderely, Everton Park, Lawnton, Newmarket, Newstead, Nundah, Stafford, and Strathpine.

PS: Note that while no media organisation chose to breach any of the cases’ privacy even when one was assumed to have had a rager after being identified as a close contact, The Courier-Mail made sure to resuscitate photos and names of the two young women of colour who broke restrictions months ago.

NET LOSS

Nine Entertainment Co has requested assistance from the Australian Signals Directorate after a major cyber attack hit its broadcast systems and prevented two shows from going to air early yesterday morning.

Concurrently, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Australian Parliament also began investigating a potential cyber attack in Canberra yesterday evening, one reportedly affecting government-issued smartphones and tablets.

MYANMAR COUP CONTINUES

Finally, Al Jazeera reports that Myanmar soldiers yesterday opened fire at people gathered for the funeral of one of 114 people killed on Saturday — the bloodiest day since the February 1 coup — as the defence chiefs of 12 countries, including Australia, condemn the military for attacks on demonstrators.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

I’m actually surprised by the response — not as good as skulling [beer] though..

In this climate — I willingly apologise — I didn’t even know what for at 4pm when I did it.

[three different laughing emojis]

Andrew Laming

After “unreservedly” apologising for harassing two women but before facing allegations of photographing up another’s skirt, the LNP MP claims over Facebook he didn’t know what he was apologising for hours after being “hauled in” by Scott Morrison (a term used in four separate media reports, coincidentally).

Laming, for the record, alleges the emojis were a typo.

THE DIRTY COUNTRY: CORRUPTION IN AUSTRALIA

Last week, we wrapped up our multi-part series, The Dirty Country: Corruption in Australia. Catch up on our final instalment here.

We must learn to see the corruption that pervades Australian public life, and restructure it

“Australians, and especially our governing class, have normalised soft corruption. They literally no longer see a great deal of it because it has been accepted as a standard part of Australian political life.

“If voters dislike pork-barrelling and understand the danger of property developers buying favourable planning decisions, they look past political donations and readily tolerate former politicians and public servants working for the industries they once regulated and funded.”

CRIKEY RECAP

The trail of lies and obfuscations that leads straight to the PM’s door

“We are left with three glaring inconsistencies: the apparent absence of any actual security breach by the alleged rapist warranting his dismissal; the fact that if he was sacked over his late-night office entry, Higgins should have been too; and, most significantly, if the government didn’t know about the alleged rape at all, why the precipitous rush to execute him over a minor document breach and a late-night entry during which nothing (as far as the government then knew) occurred?”


You can’t reset while continuing to deceive and distract, Scott

“Going for his third reset in a week and his second in a day, the prime minister fronted A Current Affair last night. The appearance dispatches the fantasies of a number of press gallery journalists and Coalition MPs that all this women stuff is confined to voting demographics hostile to Scott Morrison and thus irrelevant.

“By the end of his sit-down with Tracy Grimshaw, Morrison had still not extricated himself from his cover-ups, evasions, deceits and relentless efforts to politically manage the explosion of issues that has smashed him and his government.”


Who is the prime minister speaking to about sexual violence? We tried to find out

“‘I’m doing everything I can to understand it as best as I can,’ Morrison said. ‘It’s been like a big wake up call. And it’s been like a red light to say stop, look, listen. And that’s what we’re doing.’

“But exactly who has he been listening to? Crikey asked the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), which didn’t respond by deadline. We also reached out the major national sexual violence organisations with direct experience in the field the PM could talk to. We found one — sort of.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Worried about JobKeeper ending? This advice might help

NSW floods: evacuated Sydney residents told to stay away as water recedes and cleanup begins

Mark McGowan defends Queensland border restrictions as ‘party’ details revealed as false

Police undergoing a ‘significant cultural shift’ on family violence

NRL team official speaks out after her viral Scott Morrison reaction caught on camera

Solar cowboys: Door-to-door sales crackdown in government’s sights

Mine export surge holds up economy ($)

Greens target super-rich with $40b billionaires’ wealth tax

Worst may lie ahead for Brazil in coronavirus pandemic with deaths poised to pass US total

Violent protests spread in Bangladesh after Modi visit

‘Dark day’: Pakistan football HQ attacked, women’s event scrapped

THE COMMENTARIAT

Shifty approach to reform will threaten consensus on NDISEditorial (The Sydney Morning Herald): “But Disabilities Minister Stuart Robert has signalled major changes, saying the current system lacks consistent national guidelines, resulting in marked differences between the level support that is received in the country and the cities. He has also questioned some categories of funding, especially a case where the NDIS was asked to pay for the services of sex workers for a person with disabilities. He wants to replace the current system of determining a plan for each customer in conjunction with their doctors and other health professionals, with a standardised three-hour assessment.”

Government support does not finish with the end of JobKeeper ($) — Josh Frydenberg (The Australian): “On Sunday JobKeeper came to an end. It has been a remarkably successful program, which during the peak of the crisis supported 1 million businesses employing 3.8 million workers. At a cost of around $90bn, it is the single largest economic assistance measure any Australian government has ever undertaken. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. As former prime minister John Howard said to me before the policy was announced, ‘at times of national crisis, there are no ideological constraints’.”

Being ‘edgy’ at our expense is not artBizzi Lavelle (IndigenousX): “It’s not unusual for artists to claim that they’ve “bled” for their art. Lindsey Buckingham proudly claimed in song that he ‘bled’ to love Stevie Nicks. There is, however, a stark difference between hurting for and channelling your pain into your art, and demanding that Indigenous peoples bleed for your art so that you can tell everyone how bad colonisation and the crimes of the British Empire are.”

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Peter Fray

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Nobody digs into corruption in this country better than Crikey does.

Now we’re digging even deeper with our new multi-part series, The Dirty Country: Corruption in Australia, where our team lifts the lid on corruption, telling us how it’s done, who wins and what it costs.

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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