Labor Home Affairs spokesperson Kristina Keneally has accused Peter Dutton of cancelling her trip to Christmas Island, where Guardian Australia reports she was due to meet the Bileola family of four in a centre they have been detained in since August 2019.
22 minutes after receiving permission from Australian Border Force yesterday to meet with Priya, Nades and their daughters as part of a trip with a joint standing committee next week, Keneally was told the “defence minister has determined that the special purpose aircraft can no longer be made available for the committee’s travel”. The secretariat of the parliamentary committee reportedly advised committee members that the defence minister’s decision had been triggered by “competing government travel requirements”.
Following Keneally’s claims, Anglican priest and social activist Father Rod Bower claimed that he once took a job as chaplain to Christmas Island until Scott Morrison “saw it was me and cancelled the program”.
The allegation caps off a big day for Dutton, who 7.30 revealed now faces an Australian National Audit Office audit into his administration of the Safer Communities Fund.
PS: In other immigration news, an SBS investigation has found a stream of male Afghani refugees are facing indefinite visa delays for their wives and children, some of whom have been waiting for more than 10 years.
According to The Australian ($), there is a growing consensus among Australia’s attorneys-general to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12.
While a draft report commissioned by the Council of Attorneys-General last year recommended all governments bring the age of criminal responsibility to 14 years — the age 31 countries pressured Australia to move to at the UN in January — it also proposed “14 with exceptions for serious crimes” or, failing that, “12 with the minimum age of detention fixed at 14”.
The news comes after the ACT government broke ranks to express support for a shift to 14 in August last year, and as both the Northern Territory and Queensland Labor governments pursue youth bail changes that would increase the incarceration of Indigenous children.
OH GOOD, NOW THERE’S BLACKMAIL
Former South Australian Labor MP Annabel Digance and her husband Greg have been arrested in Adelaide and charged with blackmailing Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas, with The Advertiser ($) reporting the pair are alleged to have threatened to make false allegations about the party leader unless he orchestrated Digance’s return to politics.
News of the threats, which allegedly revolved around spreading baseless allegations of racism, bullying, harassment and sexism, come after Digance vowed in late March to speak out about “many, many examples” within SA Labor of misuse of power, bullying, intimidation, and other alleged harassment. Attorney-General Vickie Chapman has since insisted a parliamentary inquiry into those claims will go ahead despite Digance’s charges ($).
AN UPDATE ON SOME COALITION SCANDALS
In the latest from other Morrison government scandals:
- Andrew Laming has awarded two grants to community organisations run by an LNP branch president and administered by his own electorate officer; Community Connections Redlands Coast, where Laming is also a patron, and the Redlands Coast Salad Bowl, both of which used their platforms to promote the LNP (Guardian Australia)
- Following criticism that several radical changes to the National Disability Insurance Scheme could gut the scheme, new Government Services Minister Linda Reynolds will shelve plans to roll out third-party, roughly 3-hour-long independent assessments until a trial is finished and the government “has had a good opportunity to examine the feedback” (The Australian $)
- Former Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate used yesterday’s Senate inquiry hearing to release parts of a secret review by management consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG) that advocates for the further privatisation of the postal service (Guardian Australia).
PS: Eagle-eyed readers will note BCG is the US-based group the government gave $9 million to advise on “gas modelling”, “business delivery”, and “infrastructure”, after the body that already does those things, the Australian Energy Market Operator, projected gas will fail to compete with batteries in its inconvenient 2020 Integrated Systems Plan.
BEN THERE – DONE THAT?
Finally, The Sydney Morning Herald reports the Australian Federal Police has confirmed it has launched a fresh investigation into Ben Roberts-Smith for allegedly burying sensitive Defence files in his backyard, and is treating an accusation he attempted to intimidate a witness to the Brereton war crimes inquiry “as a priority”.
Roberts-Smith has denied both allegations in statements Nine reporter Nick McKenzie outright labelled a lie, arguing both the AFP and media company have evidence of the alleged buried USBs and witness intimidation.
Nine lawyers have also written to the former soldier’s legal team seeking an “explanation” relating to the alleged concealment of apparently relevant documents during the discovery process of his defamation case.
PS: In related news, ABC reports that Australian soldiers in Afghanistan are expected to leave with US troops by this year’s 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
Given the prime minister won’t apologise to Christine Holgate, it looks like the taxpayer funded empathy training he’s been paying for was a complete waste of time.
“In 1989 a then 21-year-old Scott Morrison wrote a detailed thesis for his Bachelor of Science honours degree. His topic, Crikey can reveal, was the local history of a relatively obscure evangelical church known as the Christian Brethren.
“The full title of Morrison’s 154-page thesis is ‘Religion and Society, a Micro Approach: an Examination of the Christian Brethren Assemblies in the Sydney Metropolitan Area, 1964-1989’.”
“Australia has a long history of women being blamed for men’s mistakes. It’s known as the ‘glass cliff’, whereby women and people of colour are appointed to positions only after an organisation starts performing badly and are then blamed for its past performance.
“It seems if there’s unavoidable disaster, the blokes step back and a woman takes the fall.”
“Yet the air in the theatre that was yesterday was actually thick with grey — a fog of changing attitudes, differing perceptions, gender wars, secret government reports and, above all, the stench of hypocrisy from all sides of politics.
“Indeed special shout-outs go to Labor’s Kimberley Kitching also in white — despite being responsible for sparking the whole Cartier watch outrage which led to Holgate’s demise — sports rorts ‘victim’ Bridget McKenzie from the Nationals, and the new feminist alliance now known simply as Pauline Hanson-Young.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Why we need to fight Mark Latham’s inhumane ‘anti-trans bill’ — Sam Guerra (Junkee): “To prohibit school counsellors from affirming trans and gender diverse students and not be able to offer them support or referrals is evil. To threaten a teacher’s job because they supported one of their students who are coming to terms with their identity is heartless. Our trans and gender diverse students already suffer. They don’t feel safe, and they haven’t for way too long. It is the responsibility of teachers and schools to create a safe space for all their students — no matter how they choose to identify. No law should interfere with that.”
Return to gender: Christine Holgate saga a tripwire for PM ($) — Niki Savva (The Australian): “There was a moment a couple of weeks ago when even Scott Morrison’s Labor opponents felt sorry for him. It was the day he declared Marise Payne was the ‘prime minister for women’. Poor bugger, they thought, can’t take a trick. It was the latest in a long string of gaffes by Morrison, each one showing despite the fact he is the son of one, the husband of another and the father of two, he was struggling to work out how to talk to or about women.”
Jen, Magda, that photo and the creep of Christianity — Lauren Rosewarne (Meanjin): “When a person is aware that their photo is being taken, posing invariably ensues. It might be duck lips or a jutted hip or the V-sign, but rarely does the observed camera capture something completely natural. The photo that was released following the PM’s signing of Prince Philip’s condolence book was staged. This wasn’t a paparazzi photo taken through a window or some surreptitious, staffer-taken snapshot. This image — that had his wife posed behind him, her hands clasped solemnly behind her back — was the image selected to tell the tale of Australia’s commiserations.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Protesters will march against Aboriginal deaths in custody, following similar weekend events in the eastern states and in Alice Springs.