Scott Morrison protest protests climate protests
(Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

MORRISON TELLS PARTY OFFICIALS TO “GET OF OUT THE WAY” IN HUGHES

There are plans to parachute the former Young Liberals president Alex Dore into the seat of Hughes in southern Sydney, the SMH reports. Dore, who is from the northern beaches suburb of Manly, is poised to take on Craig Kelly’s seat (the latter is the leader of the United Australia Party now). But the Hughes federal electorate conference is livid — president John Riad says party members haven’t been able to preselect or had “the free will to select their member without external interference” since 2010. It puts Dore ahead of several other nominees, like NSW Liberal Melanie Gibbons. Prime Minister Scott Morrison is furious about the ongoing internal stoush, saying NSW party officials may need to “get out of the way” to allow the federal counterpart to endorse candidates of its own choice, The Australian ($) continues.

So what’s the issue? Well, parachuting in nominees can leave a bad taste in the mouth of the locals — not only are they denied a chance to choose someone with community ties, but it’s also an insult to injury when branch members have to work the gruelling election day to spruik someone they didn’t have any say in. Incredibly, even though we are just three months out from a federal election, more than a dozen seats don’t have Liberal candidates — despite the nominations deadline passing last May. Among them is former prime minister Tony Abbott’s former seat of Warringah — earlier this week favourite barrister Jane Buncle withdrew her nomination, Guardian Australia reports, reportedly saying she’d run out of time to campaign amid the drama.

The last-minute preselection drama prompted Morrison to tell 2GB this week the warring factions need to end their “childish games”. It comes after the NSW Liberals refused to bin preselection challenges for federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, and North Sydney MP Trent Zimmerman on Monday, as AFR reports. Morrison’s threatening to intervene so sitting MPs are protected from preselection challenges, a move that could be tested in court.

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NET GAINS

Your internet could speed up soon, with Telstra putting aside $1.6 billion for new infrastructure, The Age reports. The telco giant says it’ll improve connectivity and speed following high demand during the pandemic. So what are they actually going to do? Telstra say they’ll build ground infrastructure and a fibre network for an Asia Pacific satellite constellation, and also add about 20,000km of inter-city fibre paths to the network. The satellite promises to deliver speeds of more than 150 megabits per second — for comparison, our NBN satellite delivers speeds of 12Mbps for the basic service and 25Mbps for its premium service. It’s pretty basic — on a world scale Australia has the 59th fastest internet, as ABC reports.

Labor Leader Anthony Albanese is campaigning on better internet among other things, promising 660,000 premises in the regions and 840,000 in the suburbs will benefit from his plan, as news.com.au reports. He says 10 million premises will have access to world-class gigabit speeds by 2025 under a Labor government — the plan would run fibre into the street, The Conversation continues, giving those using copper wire the choice of having fibre connected by NBN without extra cost to get faster speed.

GRACE UNDER PRESSURE

Former Australian of the Year Grace Tame has spoken about that photo with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, ABC reports. Tame says that she’d experienced first hand the consequences of “civility for the sake of civility”, an apparent reference to the child sex abuse she suffered at the hands of a teacher. The eloquent 27-year-old continued that “the survival of abuse culture is dependent on submissive smiles and self-defeating surrenders. It is dependent on hypocrisy”. But Tame says it wasn’t a woman thing, even though women are often expected to grin and bear situations they’re not happy in. She says “all of us” are “conditioned to smile and conform to the visibly rotting status quo”. It comes after Tame was called “childish” ($) by Ten’s embattled political editor Peter van Onselen who was spectacularly dressed down on The Project after his controversial column was published.

Speaking of, van Onselen is back in the news today — denying he undermined and humiliated Ten’s federal political reporter Tegan George, Guardian Australia reports. George says she hasn’t been able to go back to work since June last year because of the “hurt, humiliation and distress” caused in part by van Onselen who was one of her bosses, Women’s Agenda continues. In her statement of claim filed against the network in the Federal Court, George says Van Onselen used Twitter, group emails, and WhatsApp to undermine her, and the network did nothing to help. Van Onselen denies he has a woman problem.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Are you addicted to Wordle? The simple game was created by a software engineer named Josh Wardle in October. The premise is simple: each day, you have six guesses to find a five-letter word. If you get a letter right, it’ll illuminate in colour — green for right-letter-right-spot, and yellow for right-letter-wrong-spot. The idea is to guess the word in as few goes as you can — which gives you bragging rights on social media. Wordle has become a sensation, clocking millions of users just months after its release — so much so, the game was recently acquired by The New York Times for a sum “in the low seven figures”.

So — what are the secrets of playing Wordle like a pro? CNN has a great story this morning that delves into it. First of all, your first guess should be a word with the most common letters. Writer Leah Asmelash suggests “adieu”, “soare”, or “arose” (those last two contain the same letters, but the order of them could maximise your chance of a right-letter-right-spot). If you have no luck with that first row, try something completely different — like “linty”. There’s little to no overlap with the row before, giving you a good diversity of letters upfront. As a last tip, don’t bother using an “s” at the end of a word when it indicates more than one — Asmelash reckons there aren’t any plurals among the Wordle solutions.

Happy guessing, folks, and have a lovely Thursday.

SAY WHAT?

We believe that each individual is created in the image of God and that we are all equal. It is central to our faith that being gay or transgender in no way diminishes a person’s humanity with dignity in God’s eyes.

Brian Mulheran

The Citipointe Christian College principal’s words are somewhat at odds with his school’s own enrolment contract released on Friday afternoon, which called homosexuality “sinful” and compared it to bestiality, incest, and paedophilia. The contract, which parents are required to sign, sparked a petition which had garnered 150,000 signatures as of Thursday morning. The school received more than $14.5 million in state and federal funding in 2019.

CRIKEY RECAP

Psycho-gate: Morrison in damage control as Liberals deny leaking texts

“It all kicked off when Peter van Onselen, Ten’s embattled political editor, got up to question Morrison at the press club and read out a savage text exchange, allegedly between Berejiklian and the senior Liberal minister.

“That tensions between Morrison and Berejiklian is hardly a new revelation. Their relationship always oscillated from frosty to begrudgingly collegial. But a minister mouthing off at Morrison was enough to deflect attention from his relatively meagre policy announcements, and dominate discussion of the press club address.”


What the Dickens is going on with Ben Roberts-Smith?

“With legal costs reaching millions of dollars and no end in sight to proceedings, most normal plaintiffs would have settled the action by now. But Roberts-Smith is no ordinary litigant. For one, much of his legal bill is being met by Perth billionaire Kerry Stokes.

Besanko told the court that both sides intended to call a total of about 24 witnesses, many of whom live in Western Australia. While WA maintains a hard border, the court has been forced to start the hearing with the non-WA witnesses.”


Morrison’s press club nothing-burger serves no one — not even him

Morrison is running the biggest-spending government since World War II, running up a trillion-dollar debt, has interest rates at near zero and has had the borders closed for two years. If you can’t get full employment with those settings, you never will.

“But ‘unemployment with a three in front of it’ was the extent of Morrison’s vision to Australians yesterday, having spent much of his National Press Club speech claiming that, apart from a few stumbles along the way on vaccines and aged care, everything was going well for the country.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

US to send destroyer, fighter jets to UAE amid Houthi attacks (Al Jazeera)

Five takeaways on Ukraine Crisis, after Putin breaks silence (The New York Times)

Amnesty condemns Israel for ‘crime of apartheid’ against Palestinians (SBS)

US orders 3000 troops to bolster European allies in Russia-Ukraine crisis (The Wall Street Journal)

‘Very hush-hush’: Borneo’s $80b carbon deal stokes controversy (Al Jazeera)

Tonga in lockdown after 5 COVID-19 cases recorded in the previously virus-free nation (SBS)

New gender-neutral pronoun likely to enter Norwegian dictionaries (The Guardian)

EU moves to label nuclear and gas as sustainable despite internal row (BBC)

Keir Starmer accuses Boris Johnson of ‘parroting conspiracy theories’ (The Guardian)

New satellite images show buildup of Russian military around Ukraine (CNN)

[Canada’s] protest organisers dig in and say only politicians can clear Ottawa’s downtown (CBC)

THE COMMENTARIAT

Morrison has one last chance as he slides into dangerous territoryNiki Savva (The SMH): “On Tuesday Morrison failed to successfully recast his narrative, admit his mistakes without qualification, apologise for them also without qualification, show he is both in control and in touch, or outline an agenda for another term more arresting than ‘the other bloke will be worse than me’. That was even before he was sucker-punched by Peter van Onselen’s revelation of a text from Gladys Berejiklian purportedly saying Morrison was a horrible person and a federal cabinet minister, responding he was a fraud and a psycho. Then he didn’t know how much bread, petrol and rapid antigen tests cost.

“The leaking of the texts was timed deliberately to inflict maximum damage on Morrison, derail his speech, dial up his paranoia and spook his colleagues even more than they are already. It worked … What he still doesn’t get, even after more than 1200 days as prime minister, is that every single problem, particularly during a crisis, whether his fault or the fault of others — and too often it has been his fault — eventually lands on his desk. It is his job to fix it, without complaining without blaming others.”

Why IVF is more equal than other healthcare in the pandemicTanveer Ahmed (The AFR): “The suffering of infertility, while terrible, is not special compared to severe pain, impaired vision or immobility. Along with cancer and cardiac treatments, these are some of the typical problems that require the elective surgery banned in spurts throughout the pandemic. In Victoria there are 67,000 such procedures on waiting lists. It is highly unlikely that the pain of testicular or prostatic cancer would attract special attention …

“However, the Victorian backflip is a pointer that the IVF industry has become one of the most commercially aggressive sectors of medicine, spawning a quirky alliance between private equity, feminists and obstetricians. Two of the biggest operations have listed on the stock exchange, Virtus and Monash IVF. The private equity group BGH has a controlling stake in Virtus.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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