Navy personal stand on the HMAS Waller, one of six Collins class submarines of the Navy's Force Element Group
Navy personal stand on the HMAS Waller, one of six Collins class submarines of the Navy's Force Element Group. (Image: AAP/Brendon Esposito)

SEAS THE MOMENT

In a fairly significant security development, Australia, the United States, and Britain are reportedly banding together in a trilateral security partnership called AUKUS to share advanced technologies, ABC reports, likely in a bid to counter China’s growing regional influence. US-based Politico reports that we’ll share information in areas like artificial intelligence, cyber, underwater systems, and long-range strike capabilities. Prime Minister Scott Morrison held a meeting yesterday ahead of today’s announcement of the partnership, even briefing Anthony Albanese on it, the SMH reports. So what does it all mean? We’re probably going to see US and British warship and submarine fleets north of Australia, including in the contested South China Sea, ABC continues, as tensions climb over Beijing’s increasingly territorial aggression.

We’re also reportedly scrapping the torrid $90b French submarine program and creating a nuclear-powered submarine fleet instead, AFR reports — and we’re reportedly going to use American and British technology to replace our existing subs with subs “more suitable to the deteriorating strategic environment”. The submarine fleet could be based in WA, the broadcaster continues, but questions remain considering we don’t have a domestic nuclear industry in Australia.

CHRISTIAN CHARITY

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is getting advice on whether Christian Porter’s mystery legal donation breached ministerial standards, ABC reports. Porter said he doesn’t know who donated to a “blind trust” which helped him cover his $1m in fees in his battle with the broadcaster over their coverage of a (strongly denied) rape allegation. Former PM Malcolm Turnbull said Porter’s acceptance of what practically amounted to a “chaff bag full of cash” is “a shocking affront to transparency”. See, Porter was free to ask who donated, as The Guardian explains, and even though anonymous donations (in a non-professional situation) are fine by the AEC, he probably should say who donated — otherwise, one expert asks, what’s the point of a Register of Interests?

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Turnbull, who appointed Porter as attorney-general prior to the scandal, continued that he was “staggered that Porter thought he could get away with it”, as SBS reports. “I will be even more staggered if the prime minister allows this to stand,” Turnbull said. Morrison spoke to Porter yesterday, and is “taking this matter seriously,” a spokesperson confirmed. The Australian ($) says Porter’s likely to leave the front bench amid the fallout. Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese cast doubt over whether Porter’s actually in the dark about the donors, calling it “unbelievable and absurd”. The Greens went further, tweeting that they’re going to move a motion of no confidence in Porter over the non-disclosure.

MONEY BUSINESS

The staggering revelations about where the federal government’s JobKeeper funding went continue. Specsavers got more than $90 million from the government scheme, one of the largest payouts yet — that we know of, of course. ABC says rival Luxottica — they own OPSM and Sunglass Hut — increased their profit by $50 million after receiving “tens of millions” in JobKeeper support. The Guardian reports this morning that a Pentecostal church got $660,000 in JobKeeper, then returned a whopping 3620% increase in profit. About 3500 religious entities were given $627m in payments after Treasurer Josh Frydenberg amended the legislation in May so they were eligible — a move one expert called unconstitutional. Frydenberg has since said he’d welcome religious groups paying back the money if they can.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Magpies are a rather polarising animal in Australia. Penguin Bloom did a fair bit of good publicity for the species, while they did win the top gong in The Guardian’s 2017 Bird of the Year contest. But we’re well and truly in swooping season, which can see many hundreds of attacks from the angsty birds — and they can be quite serious. Birdlife Australia’s Sean Dooley says the bird’s reputation for hostility is mostly just bad PR, arguing only about one in 10 male magpies are known to swoop and “few are aggressive”. Perhaps it makes sense then, that a magpie formed an unlikely friendship with another animal that usually gets a bit of a bad rap.

Peggy the English Staffy and Molly the magpie are Instagram stars thanks to their bond, as ABC reports. The Gold Coast duo met last year when owner Juliette Wells spotted a baby magpie with no mother in sight. Wells nursed the tiny bird to health, while her staffy — initially suspicious — even started lactating milk for it to drink. As Molly the magpie grew bigger, the pair have become inseparable — Wells says they even sunbake together. “Peggy just loves it and Molly just opens up her wings and they lie there together,” she said. Their Instagram account has 44,000 followers who swoon over photos of the pair playing, snuggling, and hanging out with Peggy’s new pups. It’s a fairly cute reminder that friendship can bloom in the most unlikely of places.

Hope Thursday brings some surprise and delight for you, too.

SAY WHAT?

The TGA’s media release is defamatory and I’m seeking urgent legal advice, as it creates a defamatory imputation that is false … Ultimately the frivolous copyright issue is a disgraceful diversionary tactic by the TGA.

Craig Kelly

The Therapeutic Goods Administration said they issued a cease-and-desist letter to Craig “spam texts” Kelly which basically said stop cherry-picking our information to support your vaccine views as it’s not only “seriously misleading” but also “subject to copyright under Australian law”. But an affronted Kelly said the letter he got only mentioned copyright, and thus appears to be pursuing defamation against the agency — who are part of the federal government’s Department of Health — for apparently not also spelling out in the letter that his information was misleading.

CRIKEY RECAP

The end of transparency: former AG lays bare farcical system of non-accountability

“But under the federal Coalition, not merely do the egregious faults of the Commonwealth’s few accountability and transparency laws go unremedied, we’re going backwards on transparency: freedom of information laws are ignored and treated with contempt, vast swathes of donor money are increasingly undisclosed, journalists and whistleblowers are prosecuted and harassed by police, and the government resists providing even basic information about the destination of tens of billions of dollars handed to the business sector.

“And of course there remains no Commonwealth anti-corruption body — it’s now more than 1000 days since Porter and Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced they’d create one — even as the scandals and rorts pile up in the most corrupt government in federal history.”


George Christensen is poisoner-in-chief — and the PM and his deputy won’t stop him

“The Queensland LNP member for Dawson has always positioned himself as a maverick. But since announcing he would not contest the next federal election he has ratcheted up his behaviour through attempts to undermine Australia’s vaccine rollout by promoting unproven COVID treatments and cast doubts on the usefulness of vaccines.

“Last week, when Australia’s medical regulator the Therapeutic Goods Administration restricted the off-label use of ivermectin to treat COVID, Christensen was furious. With his fellow misinformation superspreader, parliamentary colleague Craig Kelly, Christensen has been bullish on using the anti-parasitic despite an absence of evidence supporting its use and growing data showing it doesn’t help.”


Keneally’s Fowler move exposes the nonsense world of Labor insiders

“To those outside the party, Keneally running in Fowler — a seat she has no connection with, and where she’d be hard-pressed to win a proper preselection vote — seems absurd. But insiders have performed very public mental gymnastics to explain why all this is good, actually. Albanese said Labor was still the party of multiculturalism because US-born Keneally was a migrant success story, and he was part-Italian.

“Former PM Paul Keating made the same point. Chris Bowen, one of Labor’s most senior western Sydney-based MPs, said the move was good because it would mean Fowler was finally to be represented by (touch wood) a minister. Tellingly, the most pointed public criticism of Labor’s diversity challenge has come from two Egyptian-born backbenchers, Anne Aly and Peter Khalil, with the former labelling Keneally’s move ‘hypocrisy’.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Transtasman bubble burst: Stressed Kiwis stuck in Australia face pension cuts (NZ Herald)

Bureau of Meteorology says La Niña’s an even chance to return for a second consecutive spring (ABC)

Australia isolated as US ups ante on coal power (The Australian) ($)

North and South Korea both test missiles as tensions rise (Al Jazeera)

The greatest killer in New Orleans wasn’t the hurricane. It was the heat. (The New York Times)

This year’s ARIA Awards will have gender-neutral categories (SBS)

Simone Biles: ‘I blame system that enabled Larry Nassar abuse’ (BBC)

New iPhone 13, Pro, Pro Max and Mini vs. earlier models: Apple’s full lineup compared (The Wall Street Journal)

New Zealand bill to ban LGBTQ conversion practices receives record 100,000 submissions (The Guardian)

Haiti prosecutor calls for prime minister to be charged over president’s killing (The Guardian)

UN rights chief urges moratorium on AI that risks rights abuses (Al Jazeera)

‘Very ordinary’ astronauts prepare for an extraordinary launch to space (The New York Times)

THE COMMENTARIAT

Preselections will stay toxic until power shifts from faceless men: one Labor woman’s storyAlice Dawkins (The SMH):”I discovered this when I ran against the preferred, parachuted candidate in the safe South Australian seat of Spence. When I nominated, I was quietly told: ‘They are out for blood.’ The message was clear: contest this and we’ll destroy you … The power to control careers is the defining feature of the ALP’s notorious ‘faceless men’. At their whim, opportunities appear or vanish. Some branches are evolving into niche, exclusive employment agencies.

“Verbal and physical threats, standover tactics, intimidating supporters and the construction of vile rumour mills are tools deployed when a challenger dares to front the bosses. In my case, sensational scuttlebutt was directly transmitted from the offices of elected members and party officials. Preselectors were instructed: Alice Dawkins is dishonest about her membership status, a deficient volunteer, bad for the party, and you should not speak to her.”

Why no inquiry into managing COVID?Peta Credlin (The Oz) ($): “If the federal government can have royal commissions into aged care, disability care, bushfires, veteran suicides and youth detention in the Northern Territory, you have to ask why it has not yet foreshadowed a full national inquiry into the biggest crisis in two generations, one that has resulted in more than 1000 deaths, the biggest expansion of government in peacetime and unprecedented restrictions on our freedom.

“Consider all the things millions of our citizens can’t do. We can’t leave home without a valid reason. We can’t visit our loved ones. We can’t have more than a socially distanced handful of people to weddings and funerals. We can’t go to a place of worship. We can’t meet outside with more than one other person and then it’s masked up. The only shops we can go to are supermarkets or pharmacies.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Australia

  • NSW Water, Property and Housing Minister Melinda Pavey and CoreLogic’s Tim Lawless will speak about the housing supply in NSW at the Urban Development Property Summit, held online.

  • NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Committee for Sydney CEO Gabriel Metcalf will announce the inaugural Sydney Awards, held online.

  • Journalist Gary Nunn will be in conversation via webinar about his new book, The Psychic Tests, which delves into the world of psychics, mediums, and astrologers.

  • Indigenous artist Maree Clarke will join a panel discussion streamed online about the resilience of Indigenous art and storytelling practices, held by the National Gallery of Victoria.

Nipaluna Country (also known as Hobart)

  • Tasmanian Governor Barbara Baker will unveil the restored grave of the state’s leading campaigner for women’s right to vote, Jessie Spinks Rook.

Kaurna Country (also known as Adelaide)

  • Minister for Finance Simon Birmingham will discuss Australia’s economic outlook at a lunch held by Master Builders SA.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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