New push to deport Aboriginal people

The Morrison government is pushing to secure the right to deport Aboriginal people, while concerns grow over plans to use secret evidence to cancel visas.

What we know:

  • The federal government is seeking to overturn a 2020 high court ruling that deemed Aboriginal Australians cannot be deported, regardless of whether they are citizens (The Guardian); 
  • Two of the judges that supported the 4-3 majority ruling have since retired, with the Morrison government hoping the new appointees will see the matter differently;
  • The Commonwealth has asked that part of a federal court case be removed to the High Court to make the challenge;
  • The case involves Shayne Paul Montgomery’s bid to extend the category of “non-citizen, non-alien” to people customarily adopted as Aboriginal, even if they have no Aboriginal biological descent;
  • The Morrison government will also challenge this aspect, arguing that Montgomery fails the three-part test for Aboriginality despite being recognised by Mununjali elders as such;
  • It comes as concerns grow over proposed legislation allowing people to be deported without knowing the evidence behind the decision (SBS); 
  • The laws aim to prevent the disclosure of confidential information provided by police for use in decisions to refuse or cancel visas on character grounds;
  • The Australian Human Rights Commission warned that the proposal runs counter to legal principles “that the state should not be permitted to rely on secret evidence in cases where a person’s liberty is at stake”.

Perrottet pressures Morrison on climate

Liberal Premier Dominic Perrottet has urged the Morrison government to set a more ambitious 2030 emissions reduction target, while the Liberal government in Tasmania pledged to hit net zero by 2030.

What we know:

  • Perrottet, who until recently questioned whether climate change was caused by human activity, indicated he would retain the Berejiklian government goal to halve emissions by 2030 (ABC); 
  • The NSW Premier called on his federal counterparts to “follow NSW’s lead” to realise the economic opportunities of renewables;
  • The NSW government on Wednesday unveiled a $3bn green hydrogen strategy (Renew Economy); 
  • Tasmania will legislate a state target of net zero emissions from 2030, which it has already achieved in six of the last seven years (ABC); 
  • The Morrison government aims to reduce emissions by 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, with negotiations ongoing with the Nationals to strengthen targets.

Gambling watchdog had no bite

A probe into Victoria’s gambling watchdog has recommended a ban on junkets for overseas high rollers.

The independent report by QC Ian Freckelton found failures in the watchdog’s internal practices and a lack of a process to share information with police (ABC).

The review found, however, that there was “no evidence that Crown Casino exercised undue influence and/or control over the activities of the … inspectors”.

Whistleblower Peter McCormack said the probe “missed the point” and that the watchdog failed to investigate issues raised with them.

The probe is separate to the royal commission into Crown, which is due to report this week on its findings that the casino flew high rollers with links to organised crime into Melbourne.

It comes as anti-money laundering agency Austrac obtained internal reports from The Star group that revealed how the “cleanskin” Crown rival failed to address money laundering and terrorist financing risks in its casinos (SMH). 

Meanwhile a new investigation has found over $80m in gambling-related payments have flowed into the coffers of political parties in the past 22 years (ABC). 


Tudge digs in on free speech

Education Minister Alan Tudge has threatened to impose new rules enforcing free speech at universities, after criticising a high court decision to uphold the sacking of climate change sceptic Peter Ridd.

In a unanimous decision the High Court dismissed Ridd’s appeal, finding that he breached confidentiality provisions in the James Cook University’s code of conduct in publicly attacking disciplinary processes and his colleagues over their Great Barrier Reef research (AP).

Tudge expressed concern that “there is a culture of closing down perceived ‘unwelcome thoughts’ rather than debating them” and was seeking advice on the case’s implications (SMH). 

The education minister already threatened legislation to force universities to adopt free speech protections earlier this year.

The Institute of Public Affairs, which had helped Ridd fund his case, said the marine physicist would be joining the institute as an unpaid research fellow to work on “real science”.


Wuhan back on WHO radar

The World Health Organization has announced it will create a new scientific advisory group to again investigate the origins of Covid-19.

The new Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins on Novel Pathogens will seek to confirm how Covid-19 first infected humans, after an earlier WHO investigation was inconclusive (NPR). 

It will also aim to better prepare the world for future pandemics.

All hypotheses will be considered, including whether Covid-19 crossed over from wildlife sold in markets in Wuhan, and the controversial “lab-leak” theory.

The group will have to navigate continued resistance from China, with Beijing objecting on the grounds that an investigation has already taken place.


The Great Climate Furphy.

The Herald Sun on Wednesday published an ad by a group linked to climate sceptics and the IPA. Speaking of climate furphies — this comes days after the launch of News Corp’s big new net zero emissions campaign (The Age).


Postscript: Why ‘Bisexual Superman’ Has Conservatives’ Tights In A Twist

The announcement sparked a predictable shockwave, as social conservatives seemed confused and unsettled by the news, many under the impression that it was original Superman Clark Kent who had come out, rather than his son ... Fox News (whose viewers are exceedingly unlikely to be purchasing comics starring the son of Superman), had a particularly unhinged segment in which a guest lamented the perceived lack of heterosexuality among modern superheroes (Forbes).


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