Nationals leadership showdown

Nationals MPs are counting the numbers as they consider a spill or no-confidence motion against Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack in today’s partyroom meeting.

What we know:

  • McCormack is facing discontent over a lack of “cut through”, while climate denialists want stronger resistance to net zero emission targets (ABC); 
  • Former leader Barnaby Joyce is reportedly close to majority support in the 21-member party room but says there will not be a spill today;
  • Nationals MP Michelle Landry warned that female voters “would not be happy” if Joyce returned (news.com.au); 
  • Deputy party leader David Littleproud and Resources Minister Keith Pitt are reluctant to move a spill, but could contest if McCormack stepped down or lost a confidence motion;
  • One plan would see Joyce appointed with a succession plan promising Littleproud would be next (The Australian); 
  • McCormack warned leadership rivals will “have to blow me out” of the position (AFR). 
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Morrison faces vaccine grilling

State premiers will today confront Prime Minister Scott Morrison about inadequate vaccine supply in an emergency national cabinet meeting.

On the agenda:

  • Victoria’s acting Premier James Merlino, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, and WA Premier Mark McGowan will all call for increased Pfizer supply in the wake of the decision to recommend AstraZeneca to over-60s only (AFR); 
  • Morrison will propose a “recalibration” of Pfizer doses allocated to states based on population sizes, except during Covid-19 breakouts (The Australian); 
  • Merlino on Sunday described the rollout as an “absolute shambles”;
  • He also announced Victoria would allocate $5m towards trials for a locally developed Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences mRNA vaccine candidate (ABC). 

Current outbreaks:

  • NSW’s Covid-19 cluster grew to nine cases over the weekend, with mandatory mask rules expanded (Nine); 
  • Queensland recorded one new case on Sunday in a flight attendant (ABC). 
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Tharnicaa discharged from hospital

Four-year-old Tharnicaa Murugappan has been discharged from Perth Children’s Hospital, where she had been receiving treatment for a blood infection.

Tharnicaa and her family will live in community detention in Perth, following her medical evacuation from Christmas Island’s detention centre (SBS). 

Health officials have indicated she will need eight weeks of ongoing specialist care.

Visitors are unable to spend the night in the community detention home, and neither of Tharnicaa’s parents are permitted to work (The Guardian). 

Tharnicaa’s mother Priya is “anxious to now be forced into a new form of detention and very stressed to not know what is going to happen to her family” after her daughter’s treatment finishes.

Protests against the family’s detention were held in state capitals across the country on Saturday (news.com.au). 

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Indigenous voter suppression

A complaint to the Human Rights Commission alleges that the Australian Electoral Commission is indirectly suppressing votes in remote Indigenous communities.

West Arnhem Regional Council mayor Matthew Ryan and Yalu Aboriginal Corporation chairman Ross Mandi allege it is discriminatory to:

  • Require a street number and postal address to be listed on the electoral roll;
  • Only provide a polling booth to some large Aboriginal communities for a small number of days (The Guardian). 

Ryan said the AEC needed to “take rapid action to enrol the third of Indigenous people in the NT who are not able to vote”.

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Myanmar puts Australian adviser on trial

Foreign Minister Marise Payne has called for a “fair and open trial” for Australian Sean Turnell by Myanmar’s military junta.

Turnell, the economic adviser to deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi, is expected to face court this week after being charged under Myanmar’s colonial-era secrets act (SBS). 

“We do believe Professor Turnell is arbitrarily detained and we have been consistently seeking his release since he was detained some months ago now,” said Payne on Sunday.

Suu Kyi's trial started earlier this month behind closed doors.

Myanmar’s Foreign Ministry rejected a UN General Assembly resolution which on Friday called for the release of officials and politicians detained in the coup (Channel News Asia). 

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Ludicrous and destructive.

Federal Labor MP Andrew Giles describes vaccine misinformation pamphlets distributed by Clive Palmer — although he might as well be summing up the mining magnate’s entire career (The Age).

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Postscript: World’s first wooden satellite aims to prove plywood can survive space

Toothpicks. Tables. Crates. Spoons. Satellites? An ambitious project will send a tiny wooden satellite into orbit later this year … Once it’s there, the team will monitor the little cube to see how its plywood build stands up to cold, heat, radiation and the vacuum of space (CNET).

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