Victorian Premier Dan Andrews and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

IBAC FLAK

Victoria’s corruption watchdog will release its findings into allegations of branch stacking and misused taxpayer funds in the Andrews government, AFR reports. Premier Daniel Andrews gave evidence to IBAC but it’s never been made public — the state opposition says everyone should get a look before the November state election. So what’s the deal? Well, the IBAC investigation centred on former Labor powerbroker Adem Somyurek, as Sky News reports, who claimed the premier shrugged off Somyurek’s concerns about the electoral staff working on campaigns. He claims Andrews replied, “Do you want to win an election or not?” — Andrews’ people said they couldn’t comment during the inquiry, but then-education minister James Merlino said it really didn’t sound like something the premier would say. The report will probably trigger a parliamentary inquiry and a possible review by Victoria Police, the paper adds.

To other (supposed) messy state Labor drama now — former Coalition candidate and Ipswich mayor Teresa Harding says Queensland’s Deputy Premier, Labor’s Steven Miles, told her to keep funding and infrastructure projects a secret from his Labor MP colleagues in her electorate because they would “blab to the media” before the projects were announced, The Courier-Mail ($) says. Harding says she did, but continued it was “interesting” having meetings with state MPs like Jennifer Howard and Jim Madden and assistant ministers Lance McCallum and Charis Mullen and not being able to tell them about the City Deal negotiations — Ipswich First explains more on the proposal. The paper says Harding, who ran on “a platform of transparency and accountability”, made the claim during a “secret recording” of her speech at an LNP branch meeting ­earlier this year.

RESERVING (BANK) JUDGMENT

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is getting a performance review. Treasurer Jim Chalmers has today released more info about the review, which will be led by three leading economists, ABC reports. They’ll be scrutinising the RBA’s main task of keeping inflation between 2%-3% (at 5.1%, it’s near double that at the moment). It comes amid a tumultuous time for the economy — the cash rate was lowered to 0.1% at the beginning of the pandemic, a historic low, before jumping several times this year to keep pace with inflation. But the central bank is not in trouble, Chalmers stressed, as The Australian ($) reports. We’re just trying to work out whether the inflation-targeting framework is up to date. Times are “tricky”, the treasurer will say today at the paper’s Strategic Business Forum. And high interest rates “can’t stop war”, “grow more food”, “fix a skills shortage” or “repair a broken energy market”.

Despite recent hikes, the RBA says the current benchmark rate of 1.35% is still way too low, according to minutes of its July policy meeting released on Tuesday via Al Jazeera. But raising the cash rate to curb inflation is a blunt tool, the broadcaster adds, because of the financial pain it causes for things like mortgages, rents, credit cards and business loans. Indeed a report from rating agency S&P Global has found rising inflation is sure to add financial pressure on lower-income households and lead to more mortgage holders falling behind on repayments, the SMH reports. About a third of borrowers face an increase of more than 40% on current repayments if interest rates climb as high as forecasted.

REFUGEES TO SPEAK

The European Union has asked Australian authorities to record the experiences of Ukrainian refugees as it gathers evidence about war crimes at the hands of Russia in the besieged country, the SMH reports. It means we will be given access to all the evidence to date — like witness statements, satellite images, videos, photos and social media posts, the paper says. The EU’s justice commissioner (its version of an attorney-general) explained we’ll need it if perpetrators seek a new life in Australia in the future. There are 23,000 alleged war crimes registered in Ukraine so far.

Speaking of authorities: Border Force officers have seized or retained more than 1000 devices from travellers entering Australia in the past five years, Guardian Australia reports, but the agency doesn’t know how many led to criminal charges or legal action. Without those records, it’s kind of tough to scrutinise whether it’s working — or a massive invasion of privacy. Cast your mind back to April and you may remember Border Force telling the Senate that people don’t legally have to give officers their passcodes — but if they don’t, Border Force can keep the device for as long as it wants. This week, we learnt that nearly 300 devices were copied by officers during the pandemic, too.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Saul was walking alongside his closest friend in California’s Tahoe National Forest on a pleasant hike together when it happened. In a split second, his friend (whose name was not released) lost his footing and fell some 21 metres down a ridge. When the man came to a stop, he’d broken a hip and ribs. Neither of them had a phone. The man was able to limp his injured body up onto a rocky area, where they had set up camp, and call for help, with an anxious Saul alongside him. The outlook was grim — the area wasn’t accessible by vehicles, so people would need to search for the pair on foot. The injured man pulled some camouflage tarp over himself, and, laying in a bed of dirt, waited in considerable pain. Saul, however, could not stay still. He knew something was seriously wrong with his friend — what, he didn’t know. That’s when Saul heard something, several hundred metres away.

He dashed towards the noise coming from a nearby forest and came across people — volunteers with the Nevada County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue group. Excited, Saul told them to follow him in the best way he knew how. He jumped up and down on his four legs, spun around in circles chasing his tail, and looked back at them, as if to say: “What, you’ve never seen a dog rescue his best friend before?” One volunteer was like, I think it wants us to follow it. They didn’t put a whole lot of faith in the dog, but one volunteer said Saul had made eye contact with them and felt compelled to follow. Saul led them straight to his injured owner. The man was taken to hospital, but after asking for his Saul, was reunited with the heroic pooch. Saul was also pleased to receive the highest accolade a dog could get (in a dog’s opinion, anyway): a beef jerky stick.

Wishing you the determination and courage of Saul today, folks.

SAY WHAT?

Sometimes it’s wise to ignore the total flog who’s in your midst. It saves everyone the angst of confrontation and, generally, the fool moves along to annoy someone else. Unfortunately, though, there is another level of total tosser who preaches from the public pulpit in a desperate attempt to maintain some sort of relevance.

Cory Bernardi

No, the former senator was not referring to Scott Morrison — bizarrely, Bernardi was ranting about none other than Prince Harry on Sky News, who he “hesitate[s] to call him a man lest his wife be offended by the use of a gender-affirming title”. That makes no sense at all, but that didn’t stop the commentator having a chuckle at what he clearly thought was a zinger about a person who almost certainly has no idea Bernardi even exists.

CRIKEY RECAP

Johnson, Trump, Abbott: the dying light of the age of conservative narcissists

“That Johnson couldn’t manage it is no great mystery; that he made no effort to try is something of one. Like two other recent figures — Tony Abbott and Donald Trump — there was no sense that there was any prize beyond winning the election. Everything after was a burden and a bore. What the professional politician wants most of all — to be in power and stay in power, to simply govern in crisis and calm — appears to have held no attraction for these men whatsoever.

“What the professional politician craves most of — more work, more decisions to make, in the UK parlance more ‘red boxes’ — was anathema to these men. They were loyal to the imaginary aspects of the life, the perks of office, the triumphal appearances as the flashlights pop, but could make no emotional connection to the dull aspects of government, which is what professional politicians find most exciting.”


The James Webb telescope offers marvels we’re too busy to actually see

“Now we have become blasé about scientific and technological marvels. Ours is a world unlike any previous generation has known. We still have challenges and conflicts and misery, of course, but also miracles and wonders. We carry access to the sum of human knowledge in our pockets, but prefer TikTok videos. We can jet halfway around the planet in a day, yet we fume about lost luggage. Scientists can invent a wonder drug to protect us from a pandemic virus, but many whine about wearing masks to protect others. We have a helicopter flying on Mars that few people could even name.

“Maybe it’s only to be expected. Given the pace of change in our lifetimes, perhaps it’s all we can do to keep up. So pause a moment, and reflect on the James Webb Space Telescope. Check out its photos. Consider what it demonstrates about the sheer brilliance of the thousands of workers who designed it, built it, launched it, and will operate it for years.”


Queensland ALP has a conflict of interest in Suncorp. Jim Chalmers should declare it

“Why does this matter? Well, Bernard Keane and Glenn Dyer argued in Crikey yesterday that ANZ’s Suncorp banking purchase should be blocked by either the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission or Chalmers. Frankly, it’s hard to see this happening. When it comes to banking, Suncorp is a bit of a one-state wonder unlike its genuinely national insurance business which operates non-Queensland brands such as AAMI and GIO.

“New ACCC boss Gina Cass-Gottlieb will certainly come under pressure to block the deal on competition grounds and the parochial Queensland government also has blocking power. This explains the over-the-top talk of Olympic and green energy funding in yesterday’s main ANZ announcement, plus the promise to not close any Queensland Suncorp branches for three years and retain net staff numbers.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Iran’s Khamenei warns Erdogan against Syria military operation (Al Jazeera)

Bystander killed gunman 2 minutes into Indiana mall shooting (The New York Times)

Judge orders October trial for lawsuit between Elon Musk and Twitter (CNN)

B.C. woman wins $1200 payout from Air Canada after baggage was delayed 2 days (CBC)

Bolsonaro’s attack on Brazil’s electoral system sparks outrage (The Guardian)

London’s burning: fire engulfs homes as UK temperatures hit record 40C (Reuters)

‘Monumental’: Russian tennis player Daria Kasatkina praised for coming out as gay (The Guardian)

THE COMMENTARIAT

We’ve reached boiling point — nobody should have to work in temperatures above 30CMika Minio-Paluello (The Guardian): “As record temperatures pass 40C (104F) in the UK, working people deserve to be safe. Builders, postal workers and street cleaners who spend long periods outside in high temperatures are at serious risk of sunstroke, heat stress and skin cancer. Other workers doing physical labour in indoor heat, like packing in a hot warehouse, can also suffer heat stress, respiratory problems and even heart failure. Working under pressure in these temperatures can reduce people’s capacity to concentrate and lead to deadly accidents. This can be especially dangerous in industries such as transport and construction, and in manufacturing plants.

“Class shapes who is most at risk from the health risks caused by the climate crisis. People in low-paid and insecure jobs and those on zero-hours contracts find it harder to complain or raise safety concerns because they fear losing their wages. There are legal minimum working temperatures in the UK, but no legal maximum. This defies common sense. Spain, Germany and China all have maximum working temperatures enshrined in workers’ rights. And hotter countries adjust work patterns so workers can avoid the worst heat. The TUC is calling for 30C as a new absolute maximum indoor temperature to indicate when work should stop, or 27C for those doing strenuous jobs.”

When we consent, we shouldn’t feel terrible after, right?Emma Camp (The New York Times): “To be sure, consent is a precursor for ethical sex. But, too often, consent education doesn’t teach us how to understand, and learn from, the sex that comes after we say ‘yes.’ With instruction focused primarily on verbal yeses and nos, young people are stuck with a woefully limited, legal understanding of what sex is and ought to be, instead of gaining the broader ability to articulate our sexual desires in emotionally messy situations. We need a culture that does a better job of encouraging us to go beyond merely legal sex, and to prioritize emotionally satisfying sex, too …

“Even though consent is essential, when it dominates our discussions about sex, we don’t learn enough about our power to do more than refuse or approve advances. We don’t learn what we owe to our partner beyond simply not committing a crime against them. And we don’t learn to navigate the complexities of loving — and making love to — another person. The best sex is as rewarding emotionally as it is physically. This requires trust, both in our partner, and in ourselves. When we trust ourselves to know what we want, and have the language to articulate those wants to others, sex becomes more than the transactional experience common under current norms. Instead, it’s exciting, joyful and intimate. Valuing one another as equal people — not just as bodies to extract consent from — forces partners to recognize our moral duty to one another, namely that concern for others’ pleasure also means concern for their dignity.”

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Eora Nation Country (also known as Sydney)

Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)

  • Journalist Paul Daley will discuss his new book, Jesustown, at Avid Reader bookshop. You can also catch this one online.

Ngunnawal Country (also known as Canberra)

  • Sinn Fein President and Irish Opposition Leader Mary Lou McDonald will deliver an address to the National Press Club.

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