BANNED TOGETHER

The federal and Northern Territory government’s decision not to extend alcohol bans in around 400 urban and regional Indigenous communities was met with a united front of anger from Indigenous MPs, as The Australian ($) reports. Despite political differences, Labor’s Marion Scrymgour and Coalition Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price were in lockstep over action to address alcoholism and domestic violence affecting Indigenous women. In her maiden speech to the lower house, Scrymgour accused the government of pulling the pin on the 15-year program “without any protection, sanctuary or plan” in place to protect the very people the program was designed for. The prohibition was legislated by Labor in 2012, but expired on July 17, says The Oz. Without NT laws to fill the gap, some 7000 people were left in limbo. In the 48-hours after the ban was lifted, one Alice Springs liquor store reported a 300% increase in alcohol sales. Scrymgour likened it to “pulling your forces out of Afghanistan” while leaving locals behind to fend for themselves. 

In Adelaide, alcohol restrictions were also under review with the tinnie trying for a come-back, as The Advertiser ($) reports. The Adelaide Oval Stadium Management Authority (AOSMA) wants to trade in plastic cups for cans because of a “clear environmental benefit”. But South Australia Police Association president Mark Carroll postured that a can could too easily be fashioned into a projectile. As a true greenie, he recommended AOSMA instead try to acquire biodegradable cups, adding that it’s “not that hard to find them online”. But AOSMA would not be deterred. After their environmental angle missed the mark, they took a second go with something slightly more scientific: “plastic cups can present a more likely used projectile given the spray effect from throwing a cup”. Did AOSMA just concede that fans will inevitably throw their drinks around? No celebratory schooner for them.

BEN THERE, DONE THAT?

110 days, 41 witnesses, and more than $25 million in legal costs later, the marathon defamation trial of former SAS corporal Ben Roberts-Smith yesterday had its final curtain call, as the SMH ($) reports. His lawyer Barrister Arthur Moses concluded that the case of The AgeThe SMH, and The Canberra Times was built on “mere suspicion, surmise and guesswork” dreamt up by comrades with a “corrosive jealousy” for the highly decorated war veteran. According to Moses, journalists took to the allegations “like salmon jumping on a hook”, reporting the “rumours” as facts. Roberts-Smith, he said, was the victim of a “war of words”.

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The Federal Court case against Nine Entertainment has been running since June 2021 over a series of stories published in 2018. Roberts-Smith took on the media giant for trampling his reputation by falsely representing him as a “war criminal, a bully to SAS colleagues and a perpetrator of domestic violence”, allegations that the three newspapers defended as fact, the ABC reports. Crikey previously called the case akin to a Charles Dickens’ novel that went on for so long “legal costs devoured the estate in question, rendering any verdict redundant.” Justice Anthony Besanko is likely to ponder proceedings for some months before delivering a verdict. Until then, we hold our breath and hope for a better outcome than Bleak House.

SLIDING BACKWARDS GOING FORWARD

Treasurer Jim Chalmers is gearing up to “downgrade economic growth” in a statement to Parliament today, as the AFR ($) reports. Economic stagnation will be paired with higher-than-expected inflation, more interest rate hikes, and higher forecast unemployment in the period ahead. The government line remains that inflation has nothing to do with workers “earning too much”, as The New Daily reports. In the market for more good news? The current forecasts project economic output will take a $30 billion hit over three years. And the outlook will likely get worse come the October budget. That said, the economy did grow — albeit at snails pace — over the 12 months to June 2019.

Globally it is also slim pickings, Guardian Australia reports. Earlier this week the International Monetary Fund downgraded its global economic outlook for the second time in just three months. Today, the US Federal Reserve raised interest rates by another 75 basis points, as the AFR reports. Officials are still confident they can pull off an economic “soft landing”, but the stakes are getting higher.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Let’s talk about death and destruction. The artist that dealt the world cows frozen in formaldehyde, human skulls dripping in diamonds, and a fly-by Insect-O-Cutor is now planning to burn thousands of artworks to make a point about value. For The Love Of God. (That would be one of his earlier artworks). For Heaven’s Sake. (Also an artwork).

Damien Hirst’s latest project involves 10,000 separate dot paintings, each worthy of a name and an NFT writes The Guardian. But true to form, something in the art must die. Buyers can choose to either preserve their piece in a physical frame or bask in the blockchain. They “cannot keep both”. Nor can they backtrack on their decision, with the lesser of the two due to be torched “on a daily basis” beginning September 9. That’s 5820 pieces of “oil on paper” that will be reduced to ash, and 4180 NFTs that will be burned (believe it or not this is the formal process through which intangible items are destroyed). And so, The Meek Shall Inherit The Earth. (Third and final Hirst artwork for the day).

Hoping this puts a little fire in your belly today, folks.

SAY WHAT?

Pauline Hanson, you are ignorant and you are racist.

Lidia Thorpe

The outspoken Senator took her critique of the One Nation leader to Twitter after Hanson made haste during an acknowledgement of Country yesterday. Day two of Parliament and already “racism has reared its ugly head”. Assuming a right of reply, Pauline Hanson rolled out her tried and tested talking point that diversity stokes division.

CRIKEY RECAP

Barilaro scandal snags Ayres in a government adrift and maladroit

“If NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet is at all serious about better standards of governance, his Deputy Liberal Leader Stuart Ayres has to resign. It’s an open-and-shut case of misleading Parliament — something that used to be, by common agreement, the political equivalent of a capital offence.

“’It is important to recognise that at the end of the first round of recruitment there was no suitable candidate identified,’ Ayres told the NSW Parliament a month ago about John Barilaro’s appointment to the lucrative New York trade posting. Except we now know Ayres was told on August 17 last year that ‘a full recruitment process for the role of senior trade and investment commissioner (STIC) — Americas has been undertaken and a successful candidate identified’.”


Timorese migrant workers lured by ‘sweet’ promises end up as visa ‘absconders’

“Daily social media posts showcasing the good, bad and banal are luring East Timorese temporary migrant workers in Australia away from their nominated employers and on to the road in search of better labour conditions and wages.

“On YouTube, smiling berry pickers remind audiences to ‘love your job — everything will be easy’ and that strawberries are sweet but ‘not as sweet as your smile’. On TikTok, machines propelled by the sound of Céline Dion travel at lightning speed through sun-drenched crops. On Facebook, workers dance their way through rain, hail and shine to the motto: ‘Although the wind and rain may blow, we work with happiness. Be strong brothers and sisters.’

A two-part Crikey investigation has revealed the precarious lives led by East Timorese in Australia working under the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM), many of whom have learnt the hard way that a protection visa is neither a financial safety net nor a means to work.”


Dear progressives, it’s time for ScoMo to stop living rent-free in your heads

“During his premiership, Morrison did show a basic distrust of state extension, which may have had a religious basis. His slowness to act on JobKeeper etc during the pandemic may have been founded in both a politically liberal and religiously conservative apprehension that once you expand the state’s responsibility to mitigate collective misfortune, you won’t be able to wind it back — as the Albanese government discovered with COVID isolation payments. But really, he presided for a term-and-a-bit over the sort of government that is about 80% of what Bernie Sanders wants for the US, so let’s keep a sense of perspective about where we are.

“Morrison has been chased from power over everything except the imagination of progressives, whose dreams he stalks. Why do so many find it difficult to let go? Because with Labor and the Greens’ electoral success, progressivism has been deprived of its fantasies of a new order. Everyone knew it was a fantasy, but that doesn’t really matter where fantasies are concerned. The reality — a government already backtracking from several of its modest promises, and reaffirming the things many progressives dreamed it might only be bluffing about — leaves you with nothing to believe. And secular progressivism, without a revolutionary fire in its belly, has an emptiness at its core. It must define itself against a fearsome, unified right. And that right has just been shown to be a hopeless rabble.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Iraqi protesters storm the parliament in Baghdad’s Green Zone (Al Jazeera)

Ex-officers face sentencing for violating George Floyd’s civil rights (The Washington Post) 

UK Conservative leadership clash comes to abrupt halt after moderator faints on live TV (SBS)

Gas prices soar as Russia cuts German supply (BBC)

When men wielding machetes advanced on a crowd in PNG, many assumed they were doomed. A turn of the knife saved them (ABC)

Parents of Sandy Hook victim at Alex Jones trial seek $150 million in damages (The New York Times)

Big tech and the fed (The New York Times)

A stir crazy Joe Biden fought COVID cabin fever with help from his dog and a stack of books about Ireland (CNN)

Saudi Arabia plans 100-mile-long mirrored skyscraper megacity (The Guardian)

Lulo Rose: Angola pink diamond believed to be largest found in 300 years (BBC)

Australia’s national anthem has been reimagined by this Aboriginal rapper (SBS)

THE COMMENTARIAT

We pretend there has been change under Labor but hundreds of refugees are still in detentionBehrouz Boochani (Guardian Australia): “On the day the Nadesalingam family were returned to Biloela, Albanese and his ministers represented themselves as saviours, promoting an image of change and justice. These photo opportunities may look good and quieten critique, but they mask the fact that nothing has changed when it comes to hundreds of refugees still in detention.

“The reality is that the new Labor government is completely silent in front of the tragedy that continues to unfold in Port Moresby, Nauru and Australia. Not only are they silent but they continue to enact the policy. They have turned back boats from Sri Lanka, they have not yet provided any certainty for those on insecure visas, they keep many imprisoned in immigration detention centres and repeat the former government’s strategies. A few weeks ago, those asylum seekers brought to Australia through the medevac legislation received a letter from immigration restating: ‘The Australian government’s policies have not changed and unauthorised maritime arrivals will not be settled permanently in Australia.’”

What the Greens decide now on climate will affect left politics long term ­– Shaun Carney (The Age): “Barely two months after the Greens’ best-ever federal election result, the party’s moment of truth has arrived. The choices its MPs, and especially its leader Adam Bandt, make on the Albanese government’s climate change legislation will have ramifications that go far beyond this electoral term.

“How this plays out will affect relations between the ALP and the Greens for years to come. It will have a profound influence on whether the parties on the political left can work together. What we don’t know yet is whether they want to. Or, if they want to, whether they would have the capacity or permission from their supporters to pull it off.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Online

  • The Australia Institute will host a webinar to discuss the latest issue of Australian Foreign Affairs “Our Unstable Neighbourhood”.

Ngunnawal Country (also known as Canberra)

  • Treasurer Jim Chalmers will deliver an economic statement to Parliament, ahead of the October budget.

  • Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will rally at federal Parliament to call for his release.

Eora Nation Country (also known as Sydney)

  • NSW road workers, construction crews and other transport staff will strike for 24-hours of industrial action over the government’s public sector wage offer. Rail workers also walked off the job for four hours this morning.

Muwinina Country (also known as Hobart)

  • Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff will deliver a “State of the state” address at an event held by CEDA.

Kulin Nation Country (also known as Melbourne)

  • Food writer Jess Ho will discuss their new book Raised by Wolves at The Wheeler Centre.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief
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