Anthony Albanese
(Image: AAP/Dean Lewins)

RULES OF GOV

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will ban the blind trusts that allowed then-attorney-general Christian Porter to receive anonymous donations for his legal proceedings against the ABC, as AFR reports. Albanese also told all frontbenchers they have to manage their own financial affairs personally, Guardian Australia continues, while only shares in superannuation and similarly broad managed funds would be allowed under the new rules. The PM will also keep the “bonk ban” that then-PM Malcolm Turnbull introduced after Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce had an affair with a staffer (who he went on to marry and have two kids with). It’s all part of Albanese’s new code of conduct, which takes inspiration from Rudd-Gillard era rules — Albo says he wants his government to be “open and accountable”.

Speaking of conduct — Minister for Women Katy Gallagher says the rollout of sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins’ 28 recommendations has kicked off with the reboot of the task force. It’ll (hopefully) overhaul Parliament’s toxic work culture, Guardian Australia says, after Jenkins’ report found one in three staffers had been sexually harrassed. Among her recommendations was a new office for staffing and culture, which’ll offer HR support, training and education.

From Parliament well-being to the well-being of the nation and Treasurer Jim Chalmers says his first budget will measure how we’re all going in our daily lives — just like New Zealand’s government does, The Australian ($) reports. The introduction of a well-being statement will be reportedly announced today at the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum — Kiwi PM Jacinda Ardern’s government introduced a well-being budget in 2019 which looked at mental health, child poverty, Maori aspirations, the digital economy,and a low emissions future.

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HEAD TO HEAD

Controversial Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios is in Wimbledon’s final after Rafael Nadal pulled out of the semi-final because of an injury, the SMH reports. Kyrgios will go head to head with Serbia’s Novak Djokovic or Britain’s Cameron Norrie on Sunday. Nadal was gutted, but an abdominal strain proved too inflamed to keep going. He’ll take three or four weeks off to rest now. Also overnight Australians Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell made a heroic comeback to progress to the doubles final, Tennis Australia reports, while Australian Heath Davidson has advanced to the semi-finals in the quad wheelchair singles competition, to face opponent Niels Vink of The Netherlands — the world No 1.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will be facing off with a decidedly far greater adversary in November — Russian President Vladimir Putin (is that segue doing too much heavy lifting?). Albanese has vowed to treat Putin with “the contempt that he deserves”, adding that “it certainly won’t be polite”, when the pair attend the G20 leaders summit in Bali, as Sky News reports. It comes as Foreign Minister Penny Wong will sit down with her China counterpart Wang Yi for the first time today, SMH reports. Wong has slammed Beijing’s support of Russia, saying “China has a special responsibility” as a global leader.

HE SHAN’T FIGHT THEM ON THE BREACHES

After nearly 60 MPs quit in disgust, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson finally resigned as leader of the country, CNN reports. The mutiny was the culmination of a torrid three years at the top — politicians partying in lockdown, western Europe’s highest COVID death toll, and the final nail in the coffin: Johnson’s promotion of alleged sex pest MP Chris Pincher. Who will take his place? It’ll go a bit slower than Australian spills, ABC explains, and Johnson will remain the caretaker PM while endorsements and votes whittle down the competition to one.

Pundits are watching Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor of the exchequer (the UK’s treasurer) who was appointed at just 39 — though he was fined for breaking lockdown rules. Then there’s Liz Truss, the foreign secretary who has been Britain’s lead negotiator with the EU over Brexit. And Sajid Javid, who was the first to resign this week over Pincher’s promotion. He came fourth in the last leadership ballot when Theresa May resigned over Brexit. The former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt came second — so he could be a frontrunner this time ’round too.

As Johnson prepares to depart No. 10, I can’t help but reminisce on some of the bizarre moments that beamed over to Australia during his tenure. Comedian Michael Spicer cracked me up with this comedy skit of a political aide trying to rescue the PM from a train-wreck interview where Johnson tried to explain what he did for fun.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Vale Buckets the cat, who left this world peacefully after 17 happy years spent lazing on the counter of North Cowra Veterinary Surgery. Nearly two decades ago Buckets was brought into the vet on a boiling 46-degree day — the vet on duty plunged him into an ice bath bucket and suddenly the little kitten was blinking and looking around quizzically. As the Cowra Guardian tells it, it wasn’t the only time Buckets would use one of his nine lives — he once squared up with a Staffy and a Rottweiler, and copped a clop to the head from a haughty horse. Perhaps fancying a little “cataway”, Buckets even stowed away on a boat in 2011 (unbeknownst to the boat owners) and returned a week later to the vet — one assumes well-rested. But it was the bond between practice owner Stuart Austin and Buckets that pulls the heartstrings the tightest.

Austin would pop into the practice every Saturday and Sunday morning to let Buckets out in the morning, and then return in the evening to tuck Buckets into his front counter bed. His was a life of feline leisure, but Buckets was more like a dog than a cat, Austin says, scoffing his food and even playing fetch with Austin’s daughter. “We’ve had hundreds of adopted kittens through this clinic over the years but none have had his personality,” Austin says. Buckets took his receptionist role seriously, greeting customers and dutifully accepting scritches. His duties also included rolling in a box of second-hand collars, and playing hide and seek with staff at closing time. At the end, Buckets was surrounded by the staff that adored him, “a fitting end to a cat full of character, that no one owned but everyone loved, who gave so much pleasure and had a life well lived”.

Hoping you feel vim and vigour of Buckets this morning — and have a restful weekend ahead.

SAY WHAT?

Sounds to me like just a bit of pub talk.

Scott Morrison

The former PM says he doesn’t want a job in rugby league after reports he had a discussion with a senior figure about the Australian Rugby League Commission. Morrison would have to quit Parliament to move into a job at the governing body, and there are no vacancies. But stranger things have happened…

CRIKEY RECAP

NATO expansion and US gas exports illustrate Putin’s dramatic reversal of fortune

“Two events last week underscore Putin’s reversal of fortune. The first, almost unnoticed, was that exports of US liquefied natural gas to Europe surpassed Russian pipeline flows for the first time. This is a stunning transition. When President Biden was sworn in 18 months ago, US gas was a negligible share of total European consumption.

“Market restructuring of this magnitude and in such rapid fashion reflects the Biden administration’s efforts to redeploy global LNG supplies and help transition Europe’s energy needs away from Russia’s grasp. It required both intensive international diplomacy and strategic corporate negotiations, just one part of a multi-dimensional response to Putin’s hostility.”


Australia’s Timor-Leste intervention has a dark history — one perpetrators want to hide

“There’s a clear pattern here: the defence, intelligence and foreign affairs establishment, and successive Coalition governments, have actively worked to cover up embarrassing information, hostile and possibly illegal actions against another, supposedly friendly, government and war crimes including torture in East Timor and Timor-Leste. And that cover up involved harassing and persecuting anyone who exposed misconduct — even harassing those who failed to persecute the latter.

“The persecution of those who expose misconduct and war crimes, of course, is not limited to the East Timor intervention: David McBride continues to be prosecuted in relation to the revelation of war crimes committed in Afghanistan by Australian forces.”


Public servants tried to stop government’s digital identity scheme de-anonymising social media accounts

“Public servants at the Digital Transformation Agency tried to stop the government’s proposed digital identity bill being used to remove anonymity from social media platforms, after former minister Stuart Robert suggested it as a way to stop online trolling, internal documents reveal.

“The federal government has been pursuing a number of programs to verify the identity and the age of Australians online. The Digital Transformation Agency has drafted a Trusted Digital Identity Bill, while the eSafety Commissioner has been developing an age verification roadmap to solve a thorny problem: how can you prove the identity and age of someone behind a computer?”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

US basketball star Griner pleads guilty in Russian drug trial (Al Jazeera)

Comey and McCabe, who infuriated Trump, both faced intensive IRS audits (The New York Times)

Kazuki Takahashi: Yu-Gi-Oh! manga comic creator found dead in sea at 60 (BBC)

Spain’s Running of the Bulls festival is back. Activists have renewed calls for it be banned (SBS)

Finland passes law to bolster border fence with Russia (The Guardian)

[NZ] schools with mask mandates saw fewer student absences than average in term 2 (Stuff)

Canada’s jobs market is setting records. So why are people talking about a recession? (CBC)

[US] mortgage rates fall to 5.30%, reflecting recession fears (The Wall Street Journal) ($)

Israel asks Saudis to let Mecca pilgrims fly in from Tel Aviv (Al Jazeera)

Plant-based meat by far the best climate investment, report finds (The Guardian)

THE COMMENTARIAT

Love him or loathe him, Boris Johnson was Britain’s most consequential PM since ThatcherGeorge Brandis (The Age): “What makes Johnson so unusual? In the first place, he is a winner. His was the face and driving force of the Leave campaign in 2016. The result was a close-run thing: 51.9 to 48.1. Most expected the result to be the other way — not least Cameron, who compounded his error in calling the referendum by his smug complacency about the outcome.

“Few doubt that, without Boris at the helm, the Leave campaign would not have got over the line. He had (with help of Australian guru and friend Lynton Crosby) already won not one but two elections as mayor of London, a Labour city through and through. Then, in December 2019, after a stunning general election campaign, he won the biggest Tory majority since Thatcher by smashing the so-called ‘red wall’ — the 60 or so seats in the industrial north of England which had been Labour heartland for generations.”

Show the carnageCharles M Blow (The New York Times): “Most of America has very likely never seen a fatal gunshot wound of any sort. Our mental image of a fatal gunshot wound has been created by our cultural imagery: Hollywood … and video games. They are either clean kills (sometimes even bloodless ones, leaving clothes undisturbed apart from an entry hole burned into the fabric) or gory, cartoonish killings that produce more humor than horror. What we don’t see is the reality of these rifles’ decapitating children in Uvalde, Texas; shredding organs until they look like ‘an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer’ at a high school in Parkland, Fla.; and leaving at least one person, according to Baum, with an ‘unspeakable head injury’ in Highland Park.

“But should America be forced to confront the truth of the carnage it so often ignores? Would these images shock the country out of its morbid malaise and into action to address an unconscionable — and fully preventable — public health crisis that guns have created? The Journalist’s Resource at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy recently explored this very issue, interviewing 12 experts on the journalistic ethics at play, and the issue was more complicated than one might think. There are some thorny questions that must be thought through.”

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Peter Fray
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