The long-awaited religious freedom bill and the federal ICAC act are political hot potatoes this week, as Parliament resumes sitting for the last time before summer break. Moderate MPs say they’re warming up for a stroll across the floor over two things in the religious freedom legislation: one that steamrolls state anti-discrimination laws and another that gives religious organisations the right to discriminate, Guardian Australia reports. Who knows if they’re still in there — the SMH says Liberal MPs haven’t even seen the final version yet, even though it’s going before the partyroom on Tuesday.
Cabinet ministers are still umming and ahhing about the Commonwealth integrity commission, which is coming under intense scrutiny as well — the Centre for Public Integrity’s Anthony Whealy reckons a “weak watchdog is worse than none at all”, and urged the government to include, among other things, the power to begin investigations without evidence of a criminal offence.
And why the hold-up? Both were election promises from 2019, Labor’s Chris Bowen pointed out on Sky News (via The Daily Mail) yesterday, continuing that he thinks Morrison doesn’t “believe” in either bill. The bill agenda is actually jam-packed this week — Ken Wyatt is barracking for an Indigenous voice to Parliament, and the voter ID laws will be tabled too. But some MPs are holding their votes hostage over the vaccine mandates, like Queensland Liberal senator Gerard Rennick and South Australian Liberal senator Alex Antic, ABC reports. Indeed One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson says she’ll withhold her vote over it, Sky News adds.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
NSW’s top health official urged against suburb-targeted lockdowns as the Delta outbreak unfolded — but was ignored, the SMH reports. CHO Kerry Chant’s health advice to Health Minister Brad Hazzard was that taking “consistent measures” — like Victoria’s stage four lockdown from last year — would be better than putting specific areas in Sydney into their own lockdowns, while everyone else had more freedoms. But Hazzard went ahead and ringfenced the 12 local government areas instead. Cumberland Mayor Steve Christou told the ABC at the time that his community had basically been “under house arrest for three months”. NSW Labor leader Chris Minns reckons it shows the NSW Coalition didn’t listen to health advice — which came at a hefty cost to folks who live in Sydney’s most disadvantaged areas.
Looking forward, however, a “honeymoon period” is on the way for Australia’s pandemic — that’s according to Australian Medical Association vice-president Chris Moy anyway, who says hot weather and widespread vaccinations could stopper the kind of resurgent outbreaks as seen in Europe. The New Daily reports over 84% of our over-16 population is double-jabbed — many newly so, meaning their vaccine efficacy is at its highest. The Age’s Liam Mannix has an excellent explainer that delves into this — he reckons if two vaccinated people meet, they actually have three layers of protection between them.
PAINE TO SEE
Cricket Australia was apparently given a full printed copy of disgraced captain Tim Paine’s sexts to a staffer way back in 2019 — that’s almost three years prior to his resignation as captain on Friday, the SMH reports. The staffer reportedly asked Cricket Australia for an apology and $40,000 to cover her legal costs in 2018, but was reportedly rebuffed because Paine wasn’t a contracted player when he sent the sexts. A probe was launched by the integrity department at Cricket Australia — it found the 36-year-old cricketer hadn’t violated its code of conduct.
The paper continues that the staffer didn’t want the story to go public. Paine spoke to the Herald Sun ($), saying he always figured the story would come out, but remains adamant that the texts were consensual, Guardian Australia reports. Paine, although no longer captain, will be available for Ashes selection. The wicket-keeper batsman yesterday said he to end his Test career on the “ultimate high” of an Australian series defence at home.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
Our bodies know the pleasure of strawberries, guacamole, and buttery popcorn, writes Tish Harrison Warren for The New York Times, or the sound of laughter and smell of hot coffee. Can feeling gratitude for other things in our life be so far off? She explains the concept as “how we embrace beauty without clutching it so tightly that we strangle it”, and says we can actually train ourselves to feel more humility, delight, and joy. Warren suggests some easy ways — once a week, for instance, write a list of things big and small that you’re grateful for. An item could be as simple as a good parking spot. Or, handwrite a note of thanks to someone — perhaps your child’s teacher, or a kindly neighbour. Or keep it simple with what she calls a “gratitude walk” — her young daughter invented the “beautiful game” where the tot pointed out as many beautiful things as she could on a stroll. Sounds like an okay way to spend a small part of your day.
Folks, I apologise for my unexplained absence. My father, Greg Elsworthy, died two weeks ago after a brief illness. He was 65. I’ve spent the last two weeks with my family, telling stories, going through photos and pondering it all. Dad was a wonderful father, an honest lawyer, and loved by so many. I’m feeling gratitude for him. An avid reader of your Worm right up until the end, I reckon he would be chuffed to know he got this shout out.
Wishing you a sunny outlook on your Monday morning — it’s good to be back with you.
Why would you, would anyone, let alone our national leader take away from 5 million Victorians, the credit that belongs to them? The fact that [Scott Morrison] couldn’t just pause and say “well done” without pandering to extremists is beyond me.
The Victorian premier pulled no punches when he accused Scott Morrison of being “incapable” of condemning the violence sweeping Melbourne amid the new pandemic legislation. Some protesters dragged a gallows and a noose, calling for premiers to be hanged. Although the PM conceded violent protest had no place in Australia, Morrison continued that he felt sympathy for Australians who have supposedly had a gutful of governments telling them what to do.
How a former Family First leader and a property mogul run a network of online anti-vaxxer, anti-Dan Andrews groups
“The couple behind a popular anonymous online campaign against Victoria’s proposed pandemic law is the bankrupted former chairman of the Family First party and his anti-vaccine property-mogul partner who both spent the year touring Australia doing paid workshops about how to stop vaccine mandates.
“The pair, Ruby Janssen and Peter Harris, are also behind a network of other anonymous online campaigns — including a call for a vote of no confidence in Dan Andrews and for the TGA to allow a disproven COVID-19 drug to be used — that have been promoted by Australian politicians and conspiracy influencers alike.”
“As for general questions from the floor, only two Fox Corp shareholders had bothered to go through the rigmarole of attending to ask a question … It remains puzzling why US progressives, Democrat voters or media competitors miss the opportunity to grill the Murdochs over Fox News year after year at the AGM.
“Meanwhile, the hybrid AGM model, where shareholders can ask questions either in the room or online, is emerging as best practice in Australia — but the Murdochs are having none of that. Yesterday’s News Corp AGM, in contrast to Fox Corp’s, was 100% online. No one had the opportunity to see Rupert Murdoch in action in New York.”
“Can-do capitalism, we barely knew ye. Last week, addressing the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Scott Morrison unveiled his new mantra, repeating ‘can-do capitalism’ in his speech and the following Q&A.
“‘Can-do capitalism’ would fix climate change, but it was ‘a good motto for us to follow not just in this area, but right across the spectrum of economic policy in this country’. So good a motto that Morrison has not uttered it once since that day.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Inside Fentanyl’s mounting death toll: ‘This is poison’ (The New York Times)
Global supply-chain problems show signs of easing (The Wall Street Journal)
Videos said to be of Peng Shuai don’t resolve questions about her safety (The New York Times)
Why the Victorian protests should concern us all – –Josh Roose (The Conversation): “Over the weekend, tens of thousands of people gathered in Melbourne to protest vaccine mandates and the Victorian government’s proposed pandemic bill. While the latest protests were relatively peaceful, they have followed a week of similar gatherings whose language and symbolism were at times violent.
“The protesters are a mix of groups, but the movement is riddled with far-right and alt-right extremists who, with their growing reach through social media and in the context of developments in the United States and Europe, pose one of the more significant challenges to Australian democracy in recent memory … Central to it is a deep distrust of science, a strong belief in conspiracies, including the notion of ‘big pharma’ driving public policy, and a new world order of evil ‘liberal elites’ who abuse children and rule over global affairs.”
Good leader, flawed human: Paine’s lessons for Australian sport — Georgina Robinson (The Age): “This week he knew that to hang on would be detrimental to the team, dragging out the scandal on the eve of the Ashes. It was a distraction the side could ill afford, so Paine took himself out of the equation. It has not stopped furious conjecture over a salacious story, but it has shortened its life cycle. It was the right call.
“This should not be construed as praise for Paine. It is not. There is a great deal going unreported on this matter, for a variety of reasons, but mostly to protect the woman at the centre of it, who maintains she did not leak details of the four-year-old incident. What we can say is that almost no one writing about it, talking about it or offering their hot take on it, including this writer, can say for sure whether it is a clear-cut case of sexual harassment.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party’s Robert Borsak, The Greens’ Cate Faehrmann, the Animal Justice Party’s Emma Hurst, and One Nation’s Mark Latham will appear on a panel at the year’s final Parliament Unpacked, a chat about the importance of the crossbench. Catch this one online.
Author Garth Nix launches his new fantasy novel, Terciel and Elinor, a prequel to his classic Old Kingdom series, held online.
Eora Nation (also known as Sydney)
Financial Services Minister Jane Hume will speak at the Australian Financial Review Super & Wealth Summit.
Wurundjeri Country (also known as Melbourne)
TV personality Julia Zemiro will host an event celebrating the life of artist Mirka Mora, in collaboration with The Jewish Museum of Australia. You can catch this one online too.
Wadawurrung Country (also known as Torquay)
Protesters from the Surfrider Foundation Australia, OCEAN, Extinction Rebellion and Fridays for Future will gather at a conglomerate of gas companies called CO2CRC’s AGM and Symposium, which protesters say is a distraction from renewable energy.