Victorian election Matthew Guy
Leader of the Victorian Liberal Party Matthew Guy (Image: AAP/David Crosling)

DOCUMENTING THE DRAMA

Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy’s chief of staff asked a Liberal donor to pay more than $100,000 to his marketing business, The Age reports. The paper says it saw documents that showed the deal: $8333 a month in payments to Mitch Caitlin’s Catchy Media Marketing and Management for “supporting business interests”. Guy’s team refused to say what that phrase meant exactly. The agreement didn’t go through, but if it had, would it have been considered a Liberal Party donation? State laws say any amount over $1050 has to be disclosed, and organisations or people can give only $4210 over four years. Plus the contract said the fee would increase to $20,833 a month if the Liberals lost November’s state election. Guy’s team didn’t answer whether it could be seen as a donation.

To the NSW Liberals now, and Trade Minister Stuart Ayres is quickly losing cabinet support, according to the SMH, after documents released yesterday showed former deputy premier John Barilaro’s final panel selection report for the plum NY trade commissioner job was edited to enhance his credentials. (Oh, and AFR has Barilaro’s application letter which is really worth a look at too). Deputy Premier Paul Toole has refused to back Ayres, saying the public should have confidence in pollies. Similarly, Emergency Services Minister Steph Cooke dodged a question about Ayres’ suitability for cabinet by saying she was focused on her portfolio.

It seems a matter of when, not if, Ayres will resign, as Crikey reports, even before this latest revelation. Ayres signing a document stating Jenny West was the successful candidate before telling Parliament no suitable candidate had been found is “an open-and-shut case of misleading Parliament — something that used to be, by common agreement, the political equivalent of a capital offence”, Crikey’s Bernard Keane says. Hey, speaking of misleading Parliament, the Queensland Liberal-Nationals are calling for Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni to resign after emails the opposition claimed show he had some involvement with the new Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) website, The Courier-Mail ($) reports. De Brenni told Parliament he and his office didn’t have anything to do with QBCC’s operations.

LEARNING THE HARD WAY

We could parachute lawyers, engineers and IT experts into classrooms to fill the teacher shortage, The Australian ($) reports, and pay the crème de la crème 40% more. That’s according to the federal government’s Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, which says former professionals retraining to be teachers could earn while they learn, a kind of paid internship during their two-year master’s degree. The reforms will be scrutinised at the workforce summit by federal Education Minister Jason Clare and his state and territory counterparts next week. The teacher shortage is acute, Clare says — more kids are going to school than ever before, but 16% fewer people are studying to be a teacher than a decade ago. He’ll offer up to $40,000 for the best and brightest school kids to enrol to be teachers.

Speaking of industry shortages, there are now 10,000 people in aged care with COVID-19, and more than a third are staff. That’s according to the latest data from the Department of Health and Aged Care, as The New Daily reports, and Aged Care Minister Anika Wells has written to her state counterparts urging mask-wearing at facilities. She said vaccination rates had increased 20% since Labor came into government as her winter plan rolls out. Meanwhile critics claim proposed federal aged care laws that would protect providers from prosecution over restraints could violate international torture agreements, as Guardian Australia reports. The bill passed the House of Representatives last week and should sail through the Senate this week. But should it? Advocates including the Australian Lawyers Alliance, Elder Law in Australia and Aged Care Matters say no, but Wells says it protects other residents and workers.

GREEN AND GOLD

Here’s a quick run-through of the Commonwealth Games highlights while you were sleeping, courtesy of the SMH: Australia has 24 gold, the most of any country, and is leading the overall medal table (England in second place). Swimmer Matthew Levy has won gold in the final race of his career, saying to compete against the world’s best “is a very big highlight”. Kaylee McKeown has finished second in her individual medley after a heroic breaststroke performance, just one hour after winning a backstroke gold medal. Singer-swimmer Cody Simpson is through to a final, joining Matthew Temple in the butterfly. Simpson says he was so relieved to make it. Australia’s 3×3 male basketballers are into a sudden-death final after beating Scotland 20-15.

And swimmer Kyle Chalmers has won gold in his freestyle final, a big win considering he has been open about his struggles with mental health. “For me, I had to stand up and do it, not for myself but for everybody at home, everybody going through similar things. I hope I can inspire and I will continue this conversation,” he said. Chalmers knocked the Commonwealth Games record out of the park when he swam a 47.36 semi-final, a time that would have been good enough to win him a world title last month.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

When Brad Tucker picks up his phone and hears the breathless voice of someone who says they’ve discovered evidence of aliens, he’s like, eh. It just happens so often to the astrophysicist from the Australian National University, and mostly it’s fairly straightforward to find the real, much less extra-terrestrial reason for the junk. Last week, however, a call from two sheep farmers in the Snowy Mountains stopped him in his tracks. “This was different,” he told Guardian Australia. They’d found an eerie upright structure jammed into the beige farmland, scorched inky black. Tucker drove two hours to see it, describing it as resembling “a burnt tree … and then you come up to it, it’s like this alien obelisk almost”. The alien obelisk was made of composite materials that can withstand extraordinary heat, with woven carbon fire for insulation. Its blackened exterior means it probably re-entered the atmosphere before jamming into the ground.

So what is it? The Australian Space Agency (ASA) took a look and says it’s still working on a “formal identification” with its US counterparts. But Tucker reckons it’s debris from a SpaceX mission that re-entered the atmosphere last month. What’s weird, however, is that it’s extremely rare for space junk to land in a populated area. It’s only happened a handful of times, Tucker says: a US space station landed in WA in 1979, a Russian satellite in Canada in the ’80s, and a Chinese rocket booster in West Africa a couple of years back (it was huge — the size of a car!). SpaceX is being a bit mysterious about the obelisk too — it has a serial number that Tucker says would make it easy for it to confirm it, but the Elon Musk-owned company has been tight-lipped so far.

The truth is out there, folks. Wishing you a little curiosity in your Tuesday.

SAY WHAT?

I sovereign, Lidia Thorpe, do solemnly and sincerely swear that I will be faithful and I bear true allegiance to the colonising her majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Lidia Thorpe

The Greens senator added her own twist to the oath of allegiance when she described the Queen as a coloniser. The president of the Senate asked Thorpe to recite it correctly, and she did, though one senator was heard to say “none of us like it”. Indeed one might question why our elected officials swear “allegiance” to the monarch — it certainly was the position of Assistant Minister for the Republic Matt Thistlethwaite, who called the practice “archaic and ridiculous”.

CRIKEY RECAP

No ifs, ands or butts … can you dig it, Dom? … paydays for prisoners

“Our primary response to The Australian’s youth offshoot The Oz has generally been “Who the hell wanted this?” But late on Friday it (briefly) had a piece up that a lot of people would want to read: an investigation into whether Prince William, a fine modern gentleman, was into pegging (FYI, if you need any clarification on this term we recommend you don’t seek it via your work computer).

“… But the parent company was struck, perhaps by a conviction that regardless of verisimilitude this was no one’s damn business and could open the door to lots of gross kink-shaming, or perhaps by more practical legal concerns — either way, just as it was decided that a headline was no place for the word ‘cum’, the whole story was shelved.”


News Corp, adrift and aimless, rebrands as progressive outlet for critical thinking

“Have we finally found it? The single greatest self-own by News Corp in its long history of baiting left-liberal news? On Saturday Guardian Australia published an obituary of Archie Roach, in which the writer made reference to the “so-called ‘stolen generations’ ”. As the Guardian made clear when it removed the ‘so-called’ the next day, the error was made in trying to introduce global readers to the concept of ‘stolen generations’. Not good enough for Sophie Elsworth, the culture war hack labelled “media reporter” who then ran a major story about what a disgrace this was.

“This will be news to News Corp’s readers, since their No. 1 boy, Andrew Bolt, has used his column and Sky News TV show for 20 years to deny that the Stolen Generations even existed — claiming, utterly incorrectly, that no child was removed for anything other than ‘welfare’ reasons.”


The minister who survived Barfgate with the Barilaros makes one slip too many

“As he cut Petinos loose, Perrottet referred obscurely to ‘some further matters’ concerning Petinos that had been ‘brought to my attention’. The premier didn’t elaborate. Maybe Crikey can. In the NSW government at the moment there’s no show without John [Barilaro]. And there are plenty of intertwining moments between the former deputy premier and Petinos, the member for Miranda in Sydney’s southern suburbs. Maybe it’s these that had Perrottet suddenly sitting bolt upright last night.

“Petinos was briefly in the public eye in a made-for-tabloids story in 2017. In what became tagged in the tabloid world as ‘Barfgate’, it emerged that Petinos had been at least partly responsible for leaving ‘pools of vomit’ in the back of a ministerial car after a night of State of Origin football with John Barilaro. Petinos also hit the headlines in 2018 after a text exchange showed that Petinos and now NSW Treasurer Matt Kean were apparently well beyond the heavy-petting stage. The texts were released by Kean’s then partner Caitlin Keage …”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Heineken puts prices up by 8.9% and warns of more rises to come (The Guardian)

Estée Lauder in talks to buy luxury brand Tom Ford (The Wall Street Journal) ($)

First grain ship leaves Ukraine: what, where and why it matters (Al Jazeera)

Beyoncé will change lyrics after criticism over ‘ableist language’ (The New York Times)

Former high-level Russian official who left Putin’s government reportedly hospitalized (CNN)

California wildfire: two dead as firefighters battle McKinney blaze (BBC)

‘If she dares’: China warns Nancy Pelosi against visiting Taiwan (Al Jazeera)

Food prices soaring in developing world amid Ukraine crisis, World Bank finds (The Guardian)

THE COMMENTARIAT

Eagle eyes are on Taiwan, but is China distracting us from a ‘second Pearl Harbour’? Peter Hartcher (The Age): “It’s merely a scenario, but is it plausible? Molan argues that we’re preparing for the wrong war. He thinks that we’re all standing around waiting for a limited Chinese attack on Taiwan. And while he says that’s possible, it would only happen if China’s strategists are silly. If Xi struck Taiwan, his attacking forces would be vulnerable to a hammering from the US. Why would he accept that pain when he has the option of pushing America out of the hemisphere altogether, forcing it back to the region east of Hawaii?

“Then he can take Taiwan at his leisure, probably without the use of force. And dictate terms to US allies including Australia, now cut off from its great ally. And Xi can luxuriate in history’s acclaim as the ruler who ended half a millennium of Western dominance of the Pacific. But is Molan’s scenario plausible? Or is he just an obsessive ex-army type who’s spent too much time alone with the internet and a paranoid imagination? I turned to a well-regarded US strategist, Elbridge Colby, for guidance. After reading Molan’s scenario, Colby’s verdict …”

Rita Panahi: Jacinta Price must be elevated to shadow minister for Indigenous affairsRita Panahi (Herald Sun) ($): “There is no one within the Coalition who is better equipped to represent the interests of the Indigenous community; she has lived it, seen it and campaigned relentlessly for the genuinely voiceless and vulnerable … Opposition Leader Peter Dutton needs to pull the trigger now as the Anthony Albanese government mounts a cynical and deeply dishonest campaign designed to paint any opposition to ‘the voice’ as inherently mean, rude, racist or motivated by misinformation. The disingenuous smear campaign is as vacuous as it is false. Opposing bad policy and the enshrining of toxic race politics into the constitution is not nasty, it’s necessary.

“And no one has made that argument more strongly than the woman who has overcome so much to become a senator in the Australian parliament. One of Price’s strengths is her ability to get to the heart of complex and often emotive issues … One of the reasons why migrants love this country is that it’s truly egalitarian. No race, religion or ethnicity is superior or entitled to privileges denied others. We already have numerous Indigenous advisory bodies, there is no good reason to effectively create a third chamber of parliament based on race.”

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

Muwinina Country (also known as Hobart)

  • St Vincent de Paul Society’s Mark Gaetani and Simon Terhell, Tasmanian Minister for Housing Guy Barnett, and Lord Mayor of Hobart Anna M Reynolds are among the speakers at the Vinnies’ Homelessness Awareness Breakfast.

  • The Australian Local Government Women’s Association is hosting an information evening for women who want to run for council.

Kulin Nation Country (also known as Melbourne)

  • AFL great Eddie Betts and writer Tony Birch will discuss the former’s new book, The Boy from Boomerang Crescent, at the Wheeler Centre.