US President Joe Biden and China's President Xi Jinping (Images: AP)

US AND THEM

US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping sought to de-escalate tension over Taiwan and trade during a virtual meeting, reports the ABC. In their first summit since Biden assumed the presidency, the SMH reports the leaders confirmed their commitment to the status quo in Taiwan. The summit follows months of simmering tension resulting from contentious military exercises and “hawkish rhetoric”.

The AFR reports that the meeting was “surprisingly convivial”, especially in contrast to the frosty encounter between top Chinese and US officials in Alaska earlier this year. After the diplomatic niceties were completed, the pair quickly got down to business. The presence of both leaders at such a summit signifies their mutual recognition of the need to relieve the tension between the world’s two most powerful nations. The Australian reports that Biden entered the meeting hoping for mutually established “commonsense guardrails” to manage the growing competition between the nations. While no such agreement was struck, the talks alone signify a commitment to intervene before relations deteriorate any further.

The AFR further reports that China is seemingly softening its diplomatic approach to the US and others. While Chinese state media outlets would suggest hostility for Australia remains, “the rhetoric, even on China’s social media platforms, has not been as hostile lately as it once was,” according to the AFR.

THREATS AND VIOLENT RHETORIC

With Victoria’s controversial pandemic bill set to pass parliament after amendments, The Age reports increasingly violent rhetoric from some protesters who again gathered at Parliament House in Melbourne. Crowds chanted “kill Dan Andrews” and more than one speaker directly threatened the premier’s life.

Protesters have received support from various Victorian and Federal Liberal MPs, who Andrews accused of “cuddling up to anti-vaxxers” during question time. Notably, The Age reports right-wing Liberal MP Bernie Finn, also in the news for sharing a doctored picture of Andrews as Adolf Hitler, referred to the protesters as “a couple thousand of my closest friends”. Commenting on Monday nights protests, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said “some of the things we saw last night are ridiculous. Of course we condemn it. There’s no place for any kind of behaviour like that”.

Analysis from Guardian Australia explains how protesters in Melbourne have capitalised on legitimate legal criticisms of the pandemic bill to maintain the momentum on anti-government protests, which “began as anti-lockdown protests last year, morphed into anti-vaccine mandate protests in July, and were briefly fuelled by outraged construction workers in September”.

PERROTTET PRESSES PAUSE

In other pandemic law news, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet stepped in to delay Health Minister Brad Hazzard‘s proposed extension of emergency COVID-19 powers, The Daily Telegraph reports. According to The Australian, the proposed expansion of the state’s emergency powers through to 2023 was approved by cabinet, but sparked significant opposition when brought to the Coalition party room.

The extension of the powers would see police retain the power to distribute fines for public health order breaches until 2023, the SMH reportsPerrottet has indicated that he will reassess the legislation over the summer, while stressing that “only the health provisions that need to be extended will be extended”.

SAY WHAT?

The Nationals did not sign that, PK. OK, I did not sign it.

Barnaby Joyce

The ABC’s Patricia Karvelas asked the deputy prime minister why the Coalition signed the COP26 final agreement, including a request to strengthen 2030 targets, only to issue a statement within hours saying the target is fixed. Joyce’s deflection would seem to indicate he struggles with the concept of a Coalition government.

CRIKEY RECAP

AG’s staff feared backlash over ‘captain’s pick’. They were right

“Bureaucrats at Attorney-General Michaelia Cash’s department privately raised concerns as early as May about former Liberal candidate Lorraine Finlay’s appointment as human rights commissioner, which took place in September, worrying that the lack of a transparent selection process would attract public criticism.

“In a series of internal emails obtained by Crikey under freedom of information, department officials conceded that ‘an appointment process without advertising will be the subject of public criticism’.

“AGD officials were right: Finlay’s appointment did attract public controversy. Some was because of her past conservative policy positions, first reported by Crikey.”


A shackled, barefoot Indigenous man is paraded for the media. Why?

“The images of Kelly are confronting per se, and inevitably position him in even the least easily influenced brain as a criminal. Because he is an Indigenous person, and in WA, the abstract risk of prejudice becomes all the more real.

“These factors compound the particular prejudice that Kelly faces. His chances of a fair jury trial, following the intense media reportage of both the hunt and the apparently bizarre aspects of his life, look pretty slim.”


Voting history is the latest thing Liberal politicians are trying to scrub from the internet

“NSW Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg and MP Dave Sharma have written to the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission and the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), arguing that a website listing their voting history in fact distorts their stances on issues.

“While voting isn’t always representative of a politicians’ individual stance, the Coalition has taken issue with anything that improves transparency.

“The national cabinet’s rules and processes are still shrouded in secrecy, with documents exempt from freedom on information laws. The Coalition is against establishing a federal anti-corruption body with teeth, and federal ministerial diaries aren’t publicly available.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Prime minister’s department breached FOI laws over release of Brittany Higgins documents (Guardian Australia)

Border bust: Illegal entrant ‘didn’t know he was in SA’ (The Advertiser)

AMSANT urges Aboriginal Territorians to follow health advice after cluster grows (NT News)

Multicultural pioneer Sir James Gobbo honoured at state funeral (The Australian)

Poland border crisis: Migrants tear-gassed trying to cross from Belarus (BBC)

Perth family stranded in Simpson Desert winched to safety by helicopter after 5-day ordeal (WA Today)

Jurors begin deliberating in homicide trial of Kyle Rittenhouse (The Washington Post)

Morcombes waited 14 months to bury Daniel, new laws aim to stop such delays (Brisbane Times)

Uganda’s capital Kampala hit by twin suicide bombings: Police (Al Jazeera)

2032 Brisbane Games: Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Olympics Bill flagged for ‘corruption risks’ (news.com.au)

Anger at decision to remove appeal rights from McGowan Government’s revised Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill (The Western Australian)

THE COMMENTARIAT

The one word that will stop war over TaiwanBob Carr (The Sydney Morning Herald): “‘Restraint.’ This should be the one-word diplomatic mantra for Australia about Taiwan. It should be the opening and closing of every statement an Australian prime minister utters because a descent into war between the world’s superpowers over a neuralgic issue that diplomacy has constrained for 70 years — this is the last thing our battered and bruised planet wants. And it should be the last thing Australia should appear to be talking up. The prospect of such a clash producing a nuclear exchange is spookily high. By installing American facilities on our continent we have made Australia a target. That’s reason enough to plant us in the peace camp.”

Morrison’s inflation alarm met with RBA calmJohn Kehoe (Australian Financial Review): Morrison’s pre-election pitch is that rising US inflation pressures could strike Australia and only a Coalition government can be trusted to manage any turbulence. Electing a Labor government would risk pushing up the price of petrol, electricity and interest rates, Morrison says. Naturally, the pitch to voters overlooks the fact that under Morrison, petrol has risen 24% the past year to about $1.80 a litre and fixed mortgage rates are increasing from rock-bottom levels.”

Key flaws remain in the Andrews government’s amended billRachel Baxendale (The Australian): “Premier Daniel Andrews has sought to discredit those opposed to the bill by portraying them as anti-vaxxers and extremists. Sadly, he has been aided and abetted in this deflection by protesters who have rightly been widely condemned for deeming it appropriate to use nooses and gallows as props in recent days. The idiotic behaviour of a small minority aside, the reality is that the most credible and genuine arguments against the bill have been dispassionately expressed by some of the state’s best legal minds.”

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

Ngunnawal Country (also known as Canberra)

  • Anti-Poverty Week executive director Toni Wren and Accenture managing director Andrew Charlton will give an address to the National Press Club on the COVID-19 recovery and poverty.

  • A public hearing on the sharing of abhorrent and violent material will be held with representatives from Meta, Twitter, and Snapchat scheduled to appear.

Eora Nation (also known as Sydney)

  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison will give the keynote address at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Sydney Dialogue.

Australia

  • Grattan Institute chief executive Danielle Wood will deliver the John Button Oration entitled “The Next Generation’s Australia”, held online.