Former prime minister Scott Morrison and former Natiionals leader Barnaby Joyce (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)


A review of the Coalition’s controversial $1.5 billion regional grants program has (surprise) found the allocation of funds were skewed 2-1 in favour of Coalition-held or -targeted seats, as The Guardian reports. Nationals electorates also inherited an additional $100 million in funding that the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) deemed did not meet departmental criteria. Granted, the guidelines were there, but the Coalition overlooked, overturned and undercut them in favour of what Infrastructure Minister Catherine King called a “choose-your-own-adventure” approach. As the ABC reports today, the review ran through five rounds of funding: 164 recommendations were rebuffed while two-thirds of grants that did proceed were not given the go-ahead by the department. Add to those, 179 grants processed without proper paperwork.

In state politics, fresh emails relating to the favoured funding pot of John Barilaro suggest that NSW Deputy Liberal Leader Stuart Ayres had Barilaro added to a shortlist of candidates for the New York-based trade job, the SMH ($) reports. Investment NSW chief executive Amy Brown wrote that Ayres had “run through” the list and would “like to add [redacted name]. Can we insert John Barilaro here?” Investment NSW said no. The Australian ($) reports that the email goes hand in hand with a briefing note given to Brown confirming Ayres “met with” and “supported” Barilaro’s appointment. Ayres said no, not correct. Computer keeps saying yes.


Australia’s foreign interference laws will be put to the test after a judge ruled yesterday that Chinese community leader Di Sanh Duong will stand trial in Victoria’s County Court, as AAP/The Age reports. Born in Vietnam with Chinese heritage, Duong is the only person to have been charged and now tried under the legislation. The case rests on a $37,000 donation made to the Royal Melbourne Hospital in 2020, which the prosecution argued paved the way to interfere — at the behest of the Chinese Communist Party — with former federal minister Alan Tudge. These findings were a result of a joint investigation by the Australian Federal Police and Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.

The New York Times ($) reports that the evidence put forward in the case is “largely circumstantial” and “raises issues” relating to intent. Duong was charged with embarking on a plan to commit foreign interference, not foreign interference itself. This was one of a raft of problems identified in 2018 when the legislation was first introduced, as Crikey reported at the time. The 67-year-old’s defence maintains the money was a means for the Chinese Australian community to show its support and combat anti-Chinese sentiment which reared its head during the COVID-19 pandemic. The case comes as China steps up its own rhetoric about resisting “interference by external forces”. Chinese President Xi Jinping warned his US counterpart today not to “play with fire”, The Australian ($) reports. No doubt a little wrath will be reserved for Australia once the case kicks off.


The shadow civilian government of Myanmar will be welcomed by senior Australian Foreign Affairs officials when it takes up “representative” residence in Canberra next week, the ABC reports. The diplomatic mission of the National Unity Government (NUG) will be a few kilometres down the road from the official Burmese embassy. The Australian government maintains that it deals in states not governments and is therefore not in the market to offer formal recognition to the NUG, but the diplomatic welcome party is a sure sign the government is willing to build political capital with opponents of the military junta. (The military illegitimately seized power in a coup in February 2021). So far the Czech Republic is the only country to recognise the NUG as Myanmar’s legitimate government.


The skies have decided: let there be light. This weekend three meteor showers will co-star in a “celestial firework display”. Courtesy of a new moon, the show will run with no spotlight, but the characters and storyline are expected to hold their own as “moment in the sun” meets “fall from grace”. These meteor showers are the product of orbiting debris crossing into the earth’s well-trodden path around the sun. They are annual events, The Conversation reports.

This year’s tri-meteor tour began last night, but punters have their sights set on Saturday night as the real showstopper. For anyone hoping to secure a seat, the advice is to angle for a spot “45 degrees above the horizon, and about 45 degrees to the left or the right of the radiant”. Some head-swivelling is required, with observers encouraged to look east or north-east in the evening, north in the dead of night, and north-west in the wee hours. Just don’t be drawn to the artificial light of your mobile phone: “Glancing at a screen, even for a second, will send you back to square one.”

Hoping things are looking up as you head into the weekend, folks.


I was loathe to interrupt you, but you have called me Mr Speaker on at least a dozen occasions. My title is deputy speaker. I don’t need a Mr, a Mrs, a Madam, it’s just deputy speaker.

Sharon Claydon

The new deputy speaker reintroduced herself to opposition treasury spokesman Angus Taylor after he repeatedly referred to her as “Mr Speaker”. Message understood, said Taylor, who then dealt a further four “Mr Speakers” in the next 30 seconds. Not a good time to stick to the script.


Dutton celebrates return of question time by diving straight into the sewer

“Well, the new kind of politics didn’t last long. Second opposition question of the Labor government yesterday was from Peter Dutton. Having made his first question about the influence of the CFMMEU over Labor, he then asked the prime minister if he had ‘met with any of the many union bosses from the CFMMEU accused of criminal behaviour, including sexual assault, harassment and rape’.

“Were we, perhaps, to finally see a fulfilment of those dark warnings repeated during the regular scandals over sexual assault and workplace conduct of the Morrison government, that Labor had plenty to hide as well? Alas, no — when invited by Albanese to name whom he was referring to, Dutton said nothing.”

Pauline Hanson and Jacinta Price show how they’ll foil the Voice to Parliament

“In just a single day of Parliament, Price and Hanson have neatly demonstrated the foundations of the case against an Indigenous Voice to Parliament and how the media is ready to be hijacked to promote that view.

“Polling suggests that creating such a body is fairly popular (although not as popular as some of the Albanese government’s other major policies). Giving a disproportionate amount of air time to arguments like Hanson’s case that Indigenous recognition is itself promoting division and Price’s belief that a focus on symbolic gestures obstructs real work improving Indigenous welfare will only undermine that.”

Oz comes a cropper … army brats … masked and dangerous

“The Aus Headline Bot is a fascinating tool — collecting the alterations made to headlines of various online publications. It can sketch the subtle shifts in framing and emphasis that go into selling a story, sometimes hinting at a desire to highlight divisive elements, sometimes the desire to avoid defamation, sometimes simply the task of shortening and clarifying what one is trying to say.

“And then there are times when it allows you to imagine how the subeditor responsible justified briefly publishing a headline about long COVID symptoms with the word ‘cum’ in it.”


Kim Jong Un threatens to mobilise nuclear weapons, takes aim at new South Korea president (ABC)

Jack Ma plans to cede control of Ant Group (The Wall Street Journal)

Who is Viktor Bout, Russian man at centre of US prisoner ‘swap’? (Al Jazeera)

Rights groups hit out at Macron decision to host Mohammed bin Salman (The Guardian)

Surprise climate deal would be most ambitious of its kind undertaken by US (The New York Times)

Eritrean refugees say they are being arbitrarily detained in Ethiopian camps (The Guardian)

How Manly’s pride jersey saga took a toll on Pasifika and LGBTIQ+ community groups (SBS)

China’s BYD was written off by Elon Musk. Now it’s beating Tesla (Al Jazeera)

Cold showers as German city of Hanover reacts to Russian gas crisis (BBC)

New Zealand schools hit by bomb threats in suspected overseas ‘cyberbot’ attack (The Guardian)

WHO chief advises men who have sex with men to reduce partners to limit exposure to monkeypox (CNN)

Iraq’s political chaos: Why did protesters storm the parliament? (Al Jazeera)


Release handbrakes on growth to drive nation’s prosperityJennifer Westacott (The Australian): “With job vacancies at record highs, it’s imperative everyone can access skills and support they need to find work. So why don’t we pilot a lifetime skills account or skills guarantee to assist people returning to work and target sectors where people need more support? This should include upskilling and reskilling people over 30, including new parents returning to the workforce.

“We also need to take further steps to attract workers back to our shores. Australia needs to reinvigorate its brand as a welcoming destination for the world’s best and brightest talent. After all, it’s people who will drive the country’s economic reset and get us to the frontier.”

Treasurer was all talk, no action on inflation Steven Hamilton (The AFR): “We saw at least as much focus on the former government’s shortcomings as on the new government’s plans for the future. The same overblown pre-election rhetoric on ‘rorts and waste’. The same pre-election furphy of ‘a trillion dollars of debt that will take generations to pay off — without a generational dividend to accompany it’. (How about millions of jobs?)

“And to blame this inflation on ‘a decade of wasted opportunities, wrong priorities and wilful neglect’, as the treasurer did on Thursday, is simply wrong as a basic matter of economics. But it also communicates a concerning degree of complacency about our current state of affairs.”


The Latest Headlines



  • The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games kicked off today at the crack of dawn. The opening ceremony and ongoing coverage will be broadcast live on Channel 7 and 7plus.

Larrakia Country (also known as Darwin)

  • Australia’s largest Indigenous event Garma begins today in north-east Arnhem Land at Gulkula, a significant ceremonial ground. The four-day festival is a celebration of the cultural, artistic and ceremonial traditions of the Yolngu people.

Turrbal and Jagera/Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)

  • Activist Drew Pavlou (arrested in London for sending an alleged bomb threat to the Chinese embassy) is expected to attend a caseflow review with the University of Queensland at the Brisbane Magistrate’s Court today. There is always the option of phoning in.

Kulin Nation Country (also known as Melbourne)

  • Former head of Australia’s consular service Ian Kemish will join Kylie Moore-Gilbert to discuss his new book The Consul at Readings Emporium.