NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro
John Barilaro (Image: AAP/Dean Lewins)

AN OUTSIDE JOB

Former deputy NSW premier John Barilaro has walked away from his $500,000 New York trade commissioner role, saying it had become too much of a distraction for the state government. The plum gig faced two inquiries: a departmental review ordered by Premier Dominic Perrottet, and a parliamentary review from the upper house. The appointment stank of “jobs for the boys”, as NSW Opposition leader Chris Minns via Vice put it, but it was the facts around it that raised eyebrows: prior to Barilaro’s appointment, the final decisionmaker was told to “unwind” the recruitment process, The Australian ($) reports, even though former premier Gladys Berejiklian had already told Jenny West she’d got the job last year. Three days after that Barilaro quit his post as NSW Nationals leader, and he was appointed last month.

Meanwhile, former senator Rex Patrick is pushing for the National Archives to release documents about former PM John Howard and former Foreign Affairs minister Alexander Downer’s dealings with Timor-Leste in the 2000s. It’s the latest in his efforts to air the secret trials of whistleblower Bernard Collaery, Michael West Media reports. Patrick wrote to Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus asking him to overturn an Australian Appeals Tribunal (ATT) decision to hold part of the trial in secret. It’s a Morrison-era decision from Michaelia Cash, who thought it protected our national security. Patrick wants to see the Timor Gap Treaty negotiations — it saw us claim 80% of the Greater Sunrise gas field.

TONY AND TRUDEAU

Did Canadian PM Justin Trudeau chuck a Joe Biden and forget our PM’s name? Read the transcript and decide for yourself — Trudeau does seem to hesitate a bit before calling Anthony Albanese “a friend in Australia” and then “Tony”, as news.com.au reports. Obviously that is a shortened version of the name but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard Albo go by “Tony”. Still, it’s gotta be less embarrassing than when Biden forgot Scott Morrison’s name — at that point Morrison had been the leader of the country for years.

Meanwhile Foreign Minister Penny Wong has received a warm welcome from the Malaysian city where she was born — Kota Kinabalu, The New Daily says. Wong lived there for eight years before coming to Australia, and says it’s important we engage with South-East Asia in a way that shows we are part of the region and our futures are shared. It was just two decades ago that then Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said we couldn’t join a diplomatic group because “[Australians] are Europeans, they cannot be Asians”. Also this morning, serious defects have been discovered in patrol boats Australia supplied to Pacific Islands nations — including carbon monoxide entering part of the boats, Guardian Australia reports. Minister for Defence Industry and the Pacific Pat Conroy said it was evidence the Coalition were all fanfare, no follow-through.

But it’s a new government, a new financial year, and a fresh start, at least in some ways: property prices have fallen for the second month in a row, the average worker’s superannuation will go up by about $312 a year after it went from 10% to 10.5% today, the $450 super threshold is gone which gives 300,000 low-income workers a super payment, and the minimum wage has jumped $40 a week for 2.8 million workers.

HEALTH OF THE NATION

Australia will offer world-first DIY swabs for cervical cancer screening from today, the SMH reports. The scheme captures anyone with a cervix from ages 25-74 and will come as welcome news for those who squirm at the sheer mention of “speculum”. It’s also great news for people with a history of sexual trauma or religious/cultural sensitivities. Incredibly, seven out of 10 people diagnosed with cervical cancer have not been screened either lately or ever, but of the 900 people diagnosed in 2021, 237 died.

Meanwhile the federal government has decided that voluntary assisted dying should be ultimately up to the territories to decide, Guardian Australia reports. It spells the end of a 25-year ban enacted by the Howard government which stopped the ACT and the Northern Territory from passing bills that legalise euthanasia. New independent ACT Senator David Pocock said there’s a long history of inequality between state and territory governments, and we shouldn’t make people in the territories wait any longer for choices afforded to other Australians.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Jenny Frecklington-Jones was 14 when it first came into her life. A gold ring with engraved moons and stars, given to her by a boy who saved for a whole week to buy it. When she unceremoniously dumped him, she solemnly returned the ring too, and (with a flair for the dramatic) he threw it away. It flew all the way down the road and landed in a grassy paddock, disappearing with a glint. Fast-forward two decades and Frecklington-Jones, 34, runs into the boy’s sister — who is, incredibly, wearing the ring. He made his family search for hours to find it, the sister told her, and she felt it fitting to return it to Frecklington-Jones. Turning it over in her hand, “I decided this ring was always going to come back to me no matter what,” she says. So she started lending it to people who were afraid of flying. This ring is a survivor and will keep you safe, she’d assure people. And it always found its way back to her.

One day, a man posted it back to her, but when Frecklington-Jones received the envelope, she spotted a ring-sized hole in it. “There you go,” she thought sadly. “It’s never coming back again.” She let Australia Post know it was missing — even though a ring was a needle in a monumental and constantly moving haystack. A perfunctory email back made her sure: it was gone. Then, one day, out of the blue, another email. Somehow, miraculously, they had found the ring. It was spotted in the bottom of a sorting machine in Adelaide, the worker told her. “Sure enough, 2 days later there was a package in my mailbox…” Frecklington-Jones says. She tore it open and gazed at the ring in the palm of her hand, glinting up at her mischievously. It still goes with people on trips all around the world to soothe their nerves, she says. And it always comes back to her.

Folks, today is my one-year anniversary as your Worm writer. I hope you’re enjoying my spin on the news, and the sweetener that is On a Lighter Note. I feel chuffed to write for you each morning, and as always I welcome you popping into my inbox to say hello or share a gripe — eelsworthy@crikey.com.au. Thanks for your ongoing readership and support.

Wishing you a little magic in your Friday, and have a restful weekend ahead.

SAY WHAT?

Our nation-leading pay rise guarantee of 3% smashes other states (Victoria has a cap of 1.5%), but the unions only strike here [in NSW]. This is blatant politics to help the Labor party, without a thought for the public.

Matt Kean

The NSW treasurer says his state has the highest pay raise in the country and questioned why union strikes only happen on his turf. To be fair, ACT teachers are on strike too right now. Some might also point out that the strike is about much more than pay, however — some teachers say their class sizes have swollen to 40 kids amid staff shortages making the workload enormous. Plus, it’s probably leading to worse outcomes for our kids.

CRIKEY RECAP

‘End of Financial Year Sales’ is on tonight. Thanks, Leigh…

“Sales took over anchoring the program from Kerry O’Brien in 2010 and has held the baton through five prime ministerships. Frequently accused of being both a spokesperson for Labor and a Liberal stooge (quite an accomplishment for one woman), if one thing’s certain it’s that she’s had one of the toughest jobs in journalism through a turbulent time of Australian politics.

“But she hasn’t let that ruin her weird sense of humour. In the past few years, Sales has risen to fame for an entirely different reason: co-hosting the popular podcast Chat 10 Looks 3 with ABC’s Annabel Crabb, where the pair routinely share recipes, book tips, thoughts on musical theatre and strange niche interests that keep a huge cohort of listeners glued to their headphones.”


How an asteroid almost hit Earth and shocked the United Nations

“But the point would be well made before NASA’s presentation: later that morning a different asteroid exploded 30 kilometres above Chelyabinsk in Russia. The shockwave knocked down walls, blew out windows and injured more than 1600 people. No one knew the asteroid was coming.

“The atmosphere protects Earth from asteroids 30 metres across or smaller — most of the time. The one that exploded over Chelyabinsk was 14 metres to 17 metres across. The asteroid’s shallow entry angle and high speed of 19 kilometres per second relative to Earth allowed it to skip through.”


Crowding out: another neoliberal myth bites the dust

“Remember crowding out? Back in the days of the financial crisis, when the Rudd government, in the face of hostility from the Coalition and much of the media, deployed large-scale fiscal stimulus to protect jobs and prevent a recession, a number of arguments were deployed against it by the right.

“One was that people would never spend stimulus payments — they would only spend permanent tax cuts (that was a myth peddled by economists who simply liked reducing the size of government no matter what). In fact there are now extensive studies in both the US and Australia (including work by Andrew Leigh when he was an academic) showing households immediately spent around 40% of stimulus payments, and low-income households up to 70%.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

‘Unfounded allegations’: EU resumes funding of Palestinian NGOs (Al Jazeera)

Florida judge will temporarily block 15-week abortion ban (The New York Times)

Amazon bows to UAE pressure to restrict LGBTQ+ search results (The Guardian)

Four reported killed at protests against military rule in Sudan (Al Jazeera)

Supreme Court limits Biden’s power to cut emissions (BBC)

New Zealand labels far-right groups Proud Boys, The Base as terrorist organisations (SBS)

Singapore Central Bank reprimands crypto hedge fund three arrows, saying it flouted rules (The Wall Street Journal) ($)

NZ launches new health system. A bowel cancer patient, a GP and an anaesthetist respond (NZ Herald)

THE COMMENTARIAT

Andrews set up a ticking time bomb for his anointed successorAnnika Smethurst (The Age): “Andrews made it clear he wanted his long-serving ministerial colleague Jacinta Allan as his deputy to replace Merlino. Allan comes from the premier’s Socialist Left faction, meaning the group would have control of the two most senior positions in the party. Regardless, he was always going to get his way. There was a brief push to install Ben Carroll, once an adviser to former communications minister Stephen Conroy, as deputy, backed by his sub-faction of Labor Right.

“But the plan hit a roadblock when the rest of the Right made it clear that they would support Allan, leaving him to instead take the expanded role of Co-ordinating Minister for the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions. In one of the oddities of factional politics, Allan’s appointment as deputy found more opposition from within her own faction, with several MPs pushing for an internal ballot for the newly vacant deputy and ministerial positions. None of this should take away from Allan’s ability to do the job. Having racked up almost a quarter of a century on Spring Street, Allan has almost unmatched ministerial, party and parliamentary experience. Had she been overlooked, especially for a man, it would have tarnished the Andrews government’s progressive agenda.”

Pro-life? Then protect kids after they’re born, tooClaire Lehmann (The Australian) ($): “A pro-life policy towards firearms would require gun owners to be members of a ‘well-regulated militia’, as originally stated in the US constitution. If all gun owners had to be members of an organisation that regulated gun usage — as the second amendment intended — then rogue (or mentally unwell) owners could be monitored and flagged with law enforcement. A pro-life policy towards firearms would involve, at the very minimum, serious vetting for weapons of war, such as the AR-15. A coherent pro-life position also would pass child access prevention laws at the federal level, would penalise parents for leaving loaded guns around the house in the presence of children.

“Pro-life policies would ensure that school is a safe place for kids, too. In the two years of 2020 and last year, there were 93 mass shootings, 43 that involved fatalities and 50 that involved injuries at public and private schools across the country. In Uvalde, Texas, a state that also has a trigger law on the books that will ban abortion sometime in the near future, 19 children were shot dead while attending school in May. The Uvalde shooter did not have to be a member of a gun club or undergo training or vetting to purchase his murder weapon as well as 375 rounds of ammunition. Texan law allows firearms to be carried in public, without a licence and without training.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Eora Nation Country (also known as Sydney)

  • Minister for Metropolitan Roads and Minister for Women’s Safety and the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence Natalie Ward, MultiConnexions Group’s Sheba Nandkeolyar, and Investors, Professionals and Business Networking Group Incorporated (SIPBN)’s Raman Bhalla will speak about business in uncertain times, held at 20 Bond St.

Kaurna Country (also known as Adelaide)

Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)

  • Author Sarah Schmidt will speak about her new novel, Blue Hour, at Avid Reader bookshop. You can also catch this one online.

Kulin Nation Country (also known as Melbourne)