AMIGOS PARA SIEMPRE?
A delayed Four Corners episode has revealed that the family of Tim Stewart, a QAnon follower and long-time friend of Scott Morrison’s, have become so concerned about his beliefs — e.g. that deep-state leftist elites are running a global paedophile ring to harvest children’s blood — they have notified the national security hotline several times.
It follows several Crikey Inq investigations into Stewart, who claimed back in 2018 that Morrison’s use of the term “ritual” in the national apology to child sexual abuse victims represented a win for conspiracy theories. The latest report includes footage of Stewart’s appearance on a since-deleted episode of an American QAnon series.
While the ABC’s story follows reports by Crikey or Guardian Australia dating back to 2019, a spokesperson for the prime minister’s office claimed to Four Corners that:
This is a politically motivated slur against the prime minister and his family by a Four Corners program that is already facing serious questions about the accuracy, bias and credibility of its journalism, that is now giving credence to irrational Twitter conspiracy theorists and raising the profile of what the prime minister clearly deems a discredited and dangerous fringe group.
PS: While there is nothing on the latest revelations over at News Corp, you can check out a roughly 600 word screed at The Australian ($) against exactly six words uttered by “their ABC’s” (and formerly the Oz’s) Alan Kohler in relation to federal subsidies for diesel utes.
HOME TO BILO?
After experiencing more than three years’ detention as well as a dawn raid, multiple sicknesses and a traumatic late-night deportation attempt, the Tamil-Australian family detained on Christmas Island could be allowed to leave detention and reunite on the mainland as early as today.
Almost every Australian publication — ABC, Guardian Australia, The Age, The Conversation, The Daily Telegraph ($) etc — reports that Immigration Minister Alex Hawke will use his ministerial discretion to allow the family to return, although he is not expected to make any substantive visa changes amid the family’s ongoing legal challenge.
According to the ABC, Victorian health authorities are moving to contain a potential COVID-19 outbreak at a Southbank townhouse complex after identifying suspected transmission between residents, while the state recorded just two locally-acquired cases: two children, who are primary close contacts of existing cases and were quarantined during their infectious period.
The news comes as some researchers and medical specialists push for a review of the age groups eligible for the AstraZeneca jab after a 52-year-old woman died from a brain clot last week.
PS: Over in the US and Mexico, Novavax Inc has announced that a phase three trial for its COVID-19 vaccine has demonstrated 100% protection against moderate and severe disease and 90.4% efficacy overall.
MORALS GO OFF TRACK?
Finally, documents obtained under freedom of information by The Age reveal that Victoria’s Transport Department advised the Andrews government to continue to buy train parts from a Chinese state-owned company KTK Group, which was using Muslim Uyghur workers sourced through a government program, because it would cost too much to switch to a different contractor on the $2.4 billion train project.
The news comes after China denounced a joint statement by the “cliquey” Group of Seven leaders that criticised Beijing over issues ranging from human rights to Taiwan. Elsewhere, NATO leaders are reportedly set to expand the use of their “all-for-one, one-for-all”, collective defence clause to include attacks in space.
PS: In other foreign relations news, Scott Morrison is set to meet with Boris Johnson in London today, where they hope to sign an “in-principle” free trade agreement that, Agriculture Minister David Littleproud tells The Australian ($), could include a UK proposal to scrap the working holiday visa requirement for Britons to work in the agriculture sector.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
[asked about the G7 agreeing to end new government support for coal power by 2021]: It pays for a lot of barista machines that produces the coffee that inner-city types sit around and drink and talk about the death of coal.
Climate denialism in the face of both scientific and political reality aside, it is worth noting that one of the largest beneficiaries of fossil fuels remains the Coalition — which scored $1,147,376 from donations in 2018-19 — while this humble, salt-of-the-earth acting prime minister receives just $433,070 a year from taxpayers (which includes said inner-city types).
“Tim Stewart and Scott Morrison go back a long way — 30 years to be exact. The two met at their local Baptist church in Sydney’s Maroubra, with the men’s wives (Jenny and Lynelle) becoming best mates.
“The two couples remained close. Morrison’s ascension to the prime ministership in August 2018, however, marked a transformative moment in the lives of the two men. Stewart’s embrace of the fringe QAnon conspiracy theory became more and more pronounced as the movement gained in numbers and political influence under US president Donald Trump.”
“On an October morning in 2018 as Prime Minister Scott Morrison prepared to deliver his national apology to survivors of child sex abuse, two members of the Stewart family had their own reasons to pay close attention.
“One was Tim Stewart, now widely known as a leading QAnon figure in Australia. The other was Stewart’s sister, Karen, who had very personal reasons. Little known until now is that Karen had been sexually abused when she was 14 by two young men linked to the Maroubra Baptist Church in Sydney’s eastern suburbs — the very church Morrison had attended 30 years previously.”
“While mainstream media outlets were claiming in advance that Scott Morrison was ‘ready to stare down G7 on climate change’ and ‘will warn G7 nations not to put carbon tariffs on trade’, the outcome of the G7 summit only served to demonstrate how wholly out of touch Australia is with international climate action.
“The G7 communique was criticised by climate action advocates for being far too weak; Greenpace UK insisted it ‘reheated old promises’ and that Boris Johnson had ‘peppered his plan with hypocrisy, rather than taking real action to tackle the climate and nature emergency’ (and that was nothing compared to the criticism on vaccines). So what did the communique commit to? The G7 ‘seeks to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees’ and ‘net zero no later than 2050, halving our collective emissions over the two decades to 2030’.”
THE CRIKEY PAYWALL IS DOWN
Here’s a great piece you may have missed. Read it while it’s unlocked!
“Corruption is on the rise in Australia.
“In 2020, Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index showed Australia, once comfortably in the top 10 least corrupt nations, now equal 11th having lost eight points since 2012.
“Anti-bribery group TRACE has Australia at 12th, well adrift of New Zealand, on its bribery risk matrix. Australia is lower still on the Basel Institute of Governance anti-money laundering list.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
As News Corp savages its enemies, the ABC must strive for unity. Which makes it the perfect target … — Jonathan Holmes (Guardian Australia): “The other day I got angry enough about an editorial in the Australian newspaper — which castigated in vicious terms two of the ABC’s most accomplished journalists — that I wrote a letter to the editor. A waste of time, of course: the letter wasn’t published. So I posted it on Twitter, where it got thousands of likes, replies and retweets, almost all of them supportive. But as Ann Braine, a former teacher from Perth, tweeted: ‘Unfortunately those who should read it, won’t.’ She’s right. And they won’t read this either. The Guardian is not part of the diet of readers of The Australian, and vice versa.”
Scott Morrison’s absence is a mixed blessing as parliament resumes ($) — Simon Benson (The Australian): “The Morrison government faces a rocky two weeks, with parliament returning on Tuesday as Scott Morrison wings his way back from Britain and Europe. Some Liberal MPs are understandably nervous about Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack leading the government for three days in question time considering the politically delicate issues in play. Next week the optics won’t be much better, with the prime minister beaming into parliament via video from quarantine for the last session before August. But some may argue it might be a good time for the PM to be physically absent from the chamber.”
Housing reform must address affordability concerns — Editorial (The Sydney Morning Herald): “Housing affordability is front of mind for people in NSW, as soaring property prices stoke fears that buying a first home is ever further out of reach for many. After the onset of the pandemic last year, NSW taxpayers said their biggest concerns were the economy and unemployment. Finding shelter has now emerged as a fundamental worry. When asked to name the three most important issues that now face them this year, adults in NSW ranked housing as number one, alongside health.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
The Queensland government will hand down its 2021/22 state budget.
Nhulunbuy, East Arnhem Land
Northern Territory Aboriginal Affairs Minister Selena Uibo will open the East Arnhem Regional Council Office.