empty-house-of-representatives
(Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

DUAL DUEL

Newly minted independent MP in Fowler Dai Le has become the latest pollie embroiled in a Section 44 drama, as ABC reports. Here’s what happened: Le is a former refugee born in South Vietnam (which is now dissolved), and her AEC form said she had never been a citizen of another country. Le says it checks out, pointing out she came here when she was 11 as a stateless person — and accused Labor of starting unfounded messy drama.

To jog your memory, in 2016 a bunch of our parliamentarians were deemed ineligible because they had dual citizenship with another country. Even then-deputy PM Barnaby Joyce (who had Kiwi citizenship) had to recontest his seat. But Celeste Liddle — who just ran for The Greens in Cooper — says Section 44 is one of several constitutional rules with a “horrific legacy” written in a time of “racist mindsets”. In her 2017 essay for Eureka Street, she points out that since it was written, we’ve had waves of post-war migration and discriminatory “questions of loyalty based on dual citizenship have no place” in modern Australia.

Meanwhile, more than 80 refugee children in Indonesia (some as young as four) were “distressed” after being given anti-refugee playing cards with the Australian coat of arms on them, Crikey reports. The grim design shows an asylum seeker boat at sea, and the QR code on the packs links to the Australian government’s “Zero Chance” webpage. The Australian Border Force and Department of Home Affairs haven’t said whether they were involved, but the Morrison government did put up taxpayer-funded “Zero Chance” posters in the region, as SBS reports, as well as an online game. Hell, we even designed an anti-refugee comic strip, as Buzzfeed reports. Dismal.

A COLES NEW WORLD

New Liberal National MP Colin Boyce was a founding member of a climate science denialism club, Guardian Australia reports. Saltbush Club signed an international statement that falsely claimed “there is no climate emergency” and published commentary during the election campaign that falsely claimed the climate crisis was a “fraud”. If his name is ringing a bell, it’s because Boyce was the MP who said the Coalition’s net-zero pledge was “flexible” and left “wiggle room”, something he has doubled down on, as The Australian ($) reports. Boyce also said in a 2019 speech that efforts to save the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) were based on a “socialist political agenda” and said the “demise of the Great Barrier Reef [has] not eventuated”. Two weeks ago 91% of 719 reefs surveyed suffered coral bleaching in the fourth mass bleaching event in six years, as CNN reports, but sure.

Hey, speaking of the reef — Coles has pledged $10 million for blue carbon projects over the next 10 years, AFR reports. It’ll see a coastal wetland in the GBR catchment reinstated, and fund a seagrass nursery (aww) which is crucial to seagrass restoration. The grocery giant is definitely just trying to be competitive in the retail space, but if the reef is better off for it, then so be it. Last year, Coles also promised to run off 100% renewable energy by 2025, as Guardian Australia reports, and to slash carbon emissions by 75% by 2030.

‘A SLAP IN THE FACE’

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) has launched an investigation into current and former directors of the Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund (ACBF) which has since collapsed for breaches of the law, ABC reports. ACBF — also known as Youpla — was a funeral insurance company marketed to Indigenous Australians from the 1990s. Many paid thousands over the decades after signing up believing it was owned and run by Indigenous people — but it was actually cofounded by UK-born businessman Ron Pattenden, who continued to make money from the ACBF even after selling it in the wake of damning royal commission findings, as Guardian Australia reports. It’s not the first time ASIC has looked into it — the regulator launched legal action in 1999, alleging ACBF had been “unconscionable, misleading and deceptive” to Indigenous customers, which was settled out of court.

Meanwhile, the 2000-year-old remains of Mungo Man, Mungo Lady, and 106 other Indigenous skeletons, which were removed in the 1960s and 1970s without the permission of traditional owners, have been reburied on the NSW government’s watch, ABC reports. The burial has infuriated traditional owners as well as The Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment considering there was a last-minute application by traditional owners to delay the burial, as The Australian ($) explains — with calls for NSW Environment Minister James Griffin to look into the “secret re-burials”. A Heritage NSW spokesperson said they were looking into it — but Paakantyi man Michael Young called it “a slap in the face of native title holders”.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

In many ways, British couple Alex and Jane Hamilton are like any other newlyweds — chuffed at their good fortune finding each other, beaming from what they described as their “perfect wedding”, and glowing from the love of their nearest and dearest who helped them celebrate their big day. The only thing that might set them apart? Alex and Jane have been dating for 60 years. The couple, aged 91 and 89, met in 1956 — “When I first met Alex, I saw his cheeky smile and I was done for,” Jane says, while Alex says “I looked at her and thought, this is the woman I’ve been looking for all my life”. The pair had a full life together, parenting five children between them and running their own butter and cheese company, eventually becoming grandparents to 11 kids in their twilight years.

Then, a few weeks ago, Alex is sitting on the end of their bed and says to Jane, you know what? We should get married! And get married they did — it was “a fantastic weekend, a fantastic wedding,” Jane told the BBC. It was fitting for what she described as their “brilliant relationship” and “a wonderful 60 years” — sure, there have been ups and downs, Jane says, but “there has never been any doubts in either of our minds”. Alex agrees, saying now they are just happy living every day as it comes. As for the honeymoon, the pair are headed back to Argyll and Bute in Scotland, where they visited on their first romantic trip away together in the 1960s. “That will be lovely,” Jane says.

Hoping you feel the love around you today too.

SAY WHAT?

I think there are a lot of children who’ve watched a lot of Harry Potter films who’ll be very frightened of what they’re seeing on TV at night, that’s for sure … I’m saying [Peter Dutton] looks a bit like Voldemort, and we’ll see if he can do what he promised he’d do when he was last running for leader, which is smile more.

Tanya Plibersek

The Sydney MP says Aussie kids would be scared of Peter Dutton because he looks like the snake-like villain from the hit series. Dutton has promised to show a softer, more caring side to his personality if he becomes the next Liberal leader — indeed his wife described Dutton as having a “great sense of humour” — anything’s possible, I suppose.

CRIKEY RECAP

News Corp comes over all green after Labor’s first boat turnback

“First, no one has any right to be surprised by this: the ALP has been completely open about its support for the policy of boat turnbacks and has previously fought — without much success — to make asylum seeker arrivals via plane into an issue. It’s only Kristina Keneally’s loss in Fowler to independent Dai Le that spares us an emoji-laden tweet announcing the turnback.

“And the release of information on election day concerning ‘on water matters’ that had hitherto been ensconced in complete secrecy smacked of a desperate and transparent attempt to stir up fear over Labor’s record on boat arrivals. Labor has rightly announced an investigation, though asking Mike Pezzulo to investigate alleged political interference in his own department seems like sending the goat to investigate who ate all your cabbage.”


When will the Liberals work out how toxic Barnaby Joyce really is?

“Remember all those press gallery journalists who devoted acres of columns to explaining that Morrison’s net zero strategy was a piece of political genius and a major triumph that would end the climate wars? What staggeringly insightful analysis that proved to be — senior political journalists queueing up to tell us a turd wrapped in a ribbon was the merriest of Christmas gifts.

“It was always a meaningless target with a meaningless plan. Turns out the bribes and pork-barrelling that Joyce exacted as the price for his grunted, tired endorsement of net zero are meaningless now too. We know Barnaby is innumerate — he once claimed Australia was at risk of defaulting when its net debt was $50 billion, compared to $700 billion now. But clearly that innumeracy extends to the process of forming government.”


No more Mr Nice Guy. Labor must pulverise the Coalition on debt and waste for evah

“Surprise! Once again, a decade-long, right-wing government ran utterly out of puff, just as disaster came into view. Labor had to deal with the crisis the Howard government avoided, and spend years fighting the ridiculous accusation from the right that we would have got out of it anyway. We got out of it, but the world didn’t, until the US and the EU decided to open the spigot with 10 years of quantitative easing — flooding the world with zero-cost cash, only just enough of which got invested, to fill the vast gap in everyday demand created by the decades-long squelching down of wage power.

“The rest went to inflate every capital good imaginable, from ninth-order derivatives to start-ups to art and then to housing. Inequality yawned wide, winners and losers were selected, and the latter started wars, selected demagogues and tore suprastates asunder. They tried to turn the QE tap off a few years ago; the world hiccupped, and they turned it back on again.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Russia fast-tracks citizenship to residents in southern Ukraine (Al Jazeera)

Dozens of migrants die after boat sinks off Tunisian coast (The New York Times)

Sue Gray report: Drunken No 10 party culture in lockdown laid bare (BBC)

Ferdinand Marcos Jr confirmed as next president of the Philippines 36 years after fleeing with his father (ABC)

India sentences Kashmir rebel Yasin Malik to life imprisonment (Al Jazeera)

Rising rates are battering mortgage lenders (The Wall Street Journal) ($)

Pfizer to offer low cost meds and vaccines to 45 developing countries (CBC)

Donald Trump had a rough night in Georgia (CNN)

Iraqi man helped plot to kill Bush, FBI says (The New York Times)

North Korea fires missiles hours after Biden leaves Asia (BBC)

THE COMMENTARIAT

This explains why voters turned to the tealsZoe Daniels (The AFR): “Imagine how much better off as a nation we would be if Scott Morrison had listened to tens of thousands of women who demonstrated around the country about the lack of action on the treatment of female political staffers? And imagine how much better off as a nation we would be if we already had an integrity commission, the very existence of which would deter sports rorts, carpark rorts and other terrible wastage of public money? When talk turned to the Coalition government’s lazy slide into the use of taxpayers money for political advantage, the former prime minister shrugged his shoulders and declared that local members of parliament knew best, especially if they belonged to the Coalition.

“But it’s not just climate, integrity and women on which we will rise or fall. Teals, if you must label us, want to be the real deal in fixing government and governance. In 2019, when Albanese was a senior frontbencher, Labor promised to fund the much lauded Parliamentary Budget Office to set up its own modelling branch, allowing it to conduct full analyses of proposed policies, and to take responsibility for budget forecasts and intergenerational reports. He should reboot that promise and also allow its budget to be set by parliament, and not government.”

Clive Palmer and One Nation flopped at the election. What happened?Benjamin Moffitt (The Conversation): “UAP garnered about an extra 0.7% of the national primary lower house vote compared to 2019 (for a total of 4.1%), after spending an estimated A$70-$100 million. In Queensland the party has thus far secured just 4.3% of the Senate vote – and this is where Palmer himself was the lead Senate candidate. While in 2019, the party didn’t have much of a platform outside of being anti-Bill Shorten, this wasn’t the case in 2022. They had visible policies on cost-of-living, such as housing affordability and investing Australian superannuation funds in Australian companies. The party also tried to position itself as the voice of the ‘freedom’ movement, opposing COVID lockdowns and vaccine mandates.

“The fact that none of this seemed to resonate — particularly their interest rate policies — surprises me. I expected the party’s populist, anti-major party, ‘freedom’ agenda to resonate in some parts of the country. For example, many predicted UAP would poll well in the outer suburbs of Melbourne where there’s high levels of anti-lockdown and anti-Dan Andrews sentiment. While it did poll better than it has before in some of these areas, it didn’t translate into electoral success, nor make much of a dint in preferences as it did last election.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Muwinina Country (also known as Hobart)

  • Economist Richard Denniss will unpack the Tasmanian state budget, and launch his book Big: The Role of the State in the Modern Economy at Movenpick Hotel Hobart.

Kulin Nation Country (also known as Melbourne)

  • Aitken Partners’ Julie Maxfield and Mitch Bradley, along with Castran Gilbert’s Mark Forytarz and Nichols Crowder’s Matt Nichols will talk about COVID rent relief, windfall capital gains tax on re-zoning, and the property outlook at a breakfast.