Interesting interests It’s always fun peeking at recent updates to politicians’ registers of interests. Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young had to list every single person who contributed to a GoFundMe campaign to bankroll her lawsuit against former senator David Leyonhjelm. The list is two and a half pages long, and includes one Kevin Rudd.
Elsewhere, Labor Senator Kimberley Kitching attended a masterclass on the US-Australia alliance put on by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, and Nationals’ Bridget McKenzie got given a book on climate change by the Institute of Public Affairs. Over in Queensland, LNP Senator Matt Canavan was donated four shirts from local business Southern Cross Brands, and renewed his membership to anti-abortion group Cherish Life. Oh, and Western Australian Senator Ben Small is now a director of a business called Tailgate Smokehouse.
Hanson clash at family law inquiry It’s nearly forgotten now that One Nation leader Pauline Hanson was effectively handed an inquiry into Australia’s family law system, despite her position as a prominent men’s rights activist and repeated false claims regarding women and domestic violence.
Yesterday, Hanson’s views were again under scrutiny at public hearings. National Council of Single Mothers and their Children (NCSMC) CEO Terese Edwards fronted the inquiry and wanted to make her feelings clear about Hanson’s role.
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“She’d spoken about women lying in court. She should never be on a significant inquiry where she’s already compromised,” Edwards later told Crikey.
Things got heated at the inquiry when Hanson hit back at Edwards’ claims about her impartiality, and attacked her evidence about men not paying child support. Edwards and NCSMC never wanted this inquiry, and were always concerned about having Hanson in charge. But they fronted up anyway.
“There is not one person committed to women’s and children’s safety who thinks this [inquiry] will be a good outcome to progress safety,” Edwards said
“[Hanson is] part of the problem, not the solution.”
A Mandarin-speaking mandarin News that Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) secretary Frances Adamson will finish up her role to take a lovely job as South Australia’s governor led to a flurry of speculation about the appointments carousel at the top of the public service. Even Home Affairs boss and war-drum-beater-in-chief Mike Pezzullo is being considered as a dark horse to follow Adamson as Australia’s top diplomat. What a statement that would be.
But Adamson has one key attribute that’s surprisingly rare among the top echelons of the bureaucracy — she’s a fluent Mandarin speaker. A recent Lowy Institute report found a widespread lack of China literacy across the public service. Those issues were most troubling in DFAT and the Department of Defence, where less than 2% of employees speak Mandarin or Cantonese proficiently. The China relationship will be Australia’s most profound foreign policy challenge for years, if not decades, to come. We’d do well to pick a successor with Adamson’s skill set.
Comments section cesspit A new report has found that the comments sections under opinion articles in the Australian media are frequently terrible places that normalise Islamophobia. Researchers from NGO All Together Now examined 4500 comments across 29 articles in The Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun, and Sydney Morning Herald, finding comments sections act as a “cradle for racist discourse”, and encourage polarisation and the airing of racist views without reference to facts.
Clarification A recent article in Crikey “I spy with my little eye: another blow to privacy in Australia” said that the parliamentary joint committee report into the International Productions Bill did not address a loophole that legislation could be used to surveil journalists without using a journalist information warrant. This was so, but the loophole was addressed in a separate PJCIS report recommending the expansion of a public interest advocate to include this legislation as well. Our story has been amended online.