Porter celebrates his own surrender

Christian Porter has attempted to claim victory after dropping his defamation case against the ABC, despite failing to secure a retraction, apology or payment of damages.

What happened:

  • The former attorney-general dropped the case on Monday afternoon after the ABC agreed to add a footnote to its story on rape allegations against an unnamed cabinet minister (The Guardian); 
  • The note expressed regret that some readers had “misinterpreted” the piece “as an accusation of guilt against Mr Porter” (ABC); 
  • Porter subsequently said the ABC had admitted “they regret the article” in a “humiliating backdown” and would pay mediation costs;
  • He also criticised journalist Louise Milligan, who wrote the piece, over claims she suggested a source delete text messages;
  • The ABC fired back in a statement, denying that it regretted the “accurate and factual report” and “does not accept that the article suggested guilt on the part of Porter”; 
  • Milligan tweeted that “Porter proposed a settlement first”; 
  • Media organisations will this morning challenge Porter’s demand that the ABC’s “scandalous” legal defence be permanently removed from federal court files and remain secret (news.com.au). 
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Aged care staff free to work across homes

The federal government has been widely criticised for abandoning a rule that stopped aged care staff from working at more than one nursing home to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

What we know:

  • The rule was lifted in November,­ allowing the current outbreak in Melbourne to leap between multiple aged care homes, infecting at least three people (The Australian); 
  • It was reinstated last Thursday but is still not mandatory;
  • Nursing union head Annie Butler said she was “almost speechless” on hearing the rule had been lifted (The Guardian); 
  • National Cabinet on Friday may consider whether Covid-19 vaccinations should be mandatory for aged care workers (The Conversation); 
  • Victoria recorded 11 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, including at least one of unknown origin (news.com.au). 
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Australia thirsts for gold medal

Australia is close to overtaking China as the world’s biggest gold producer, at a time when new research warns of the metal’s impact on water and air quality.

What we know:

  • Australian goldmines produced 74t in the 1st quarter of 2021, down 4% on last year (ABC); 
  • Chinese production fell even further, dropping 9% to 74.44t. 
  • “We may even be on the way to overtaking China in the long run,” said industry analyst Sandra Close;
  • A raft of Chinese-owned goldmines in Australia are planning projects, including a $552m expansion of the Paddington mine near Kalgoorlie;
  • More growth will further pressure the environment, with the owners of a $300m mine planned for near Bathurst pushing for a 192-megalitre water licence drawing from the Belubula River (SMH); 
  • New research indicates goldmining in Australia generates higher carbon emissions, air toxicity and water toxicity than other base metals (Nature).
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NSW Labor frontrunner called out

Nearly 20 Asian-Australian Labor party members have signed a statement opposing Michael Daley’s campaign to return as NSW Labor leader over comments about “Asians with PhDs”.

In 2019, Daley claimed “young people from typically Asia with PhDs” were replacing “our young children” (The Guardian).

Daley said on Sunday “I’ve learnt from my mistakes the hard way”.

Kun Huang, a councillor at the Cumberland City Council, warned that Daley would harm Labor’s vote in multicultural electorates.

It comes as NSW Labor MP Chris Minns announced his candidacy to take on the leadership,  vacated by Jodi McKay after the Upper Hunter byelection defeat (SMH).

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Harvey Norman goes rogue online

Harvey Norman has sparked a backlash on social media after the company’s official Twitter and Facebook accounts lashed out at critics.

Unions protested outside Harvey Norman stores on Friday demanding company chair Gerry Harvey hand back $20.5m in JobKeeper payments despite booking more than $900 million in profits over the past 18 months (The New Daily). 

Unions also targeted the company’s membership of the National Retail Association, which opposed minimum wage increases in a submission to the Fair Work Commission.

Associated social media criticism sparked a wave of blockings and abuse by Harvey Norman’s official accounts, including a facepalm emoji in response to someone claiming to be a former employee driven “to suicide” by the “god forsaken company” (AFR). 

The blocking spree prompted #boycottharveynorman to trend on Monday.

The company claimed its Twitter account was “unmanned” and no longer used for customer service.

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To further optimise the birth policy, [China] will implement a one-married-couple-can-have-three-children policy.

Having already replaced the one-child policy with a two-child policy to address China’s plummeting birthrate, Beijing now recommends one for mum, one for dad, and one for the centrally planned economy (Reuters).

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Postscript: US Soldiers Expose Nuclear Weapons Secrets Via Flashcard Apps

For US soldiers tasked with the custody of nuclear weapons in Europe, the stakes are high. Security protocols are lengthy, detailed and need to be known by heart. To simplify this process, some service members have been using publicly visible flashcard learning apps — inadvertently revealing a multitude of sensitive security protocols about US nuclear weapons and the bases at which they are stored (Bellingcat).

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Max Opray is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.