Anti-vaxxers target Lambie, McGowan

Anti-vaccine activist threats against elected politicians continue to escalate, with federal senator Jacqui Lambie hit with a torrent of abuse and WA Premier Mark McGowan considering whether to move house.

What we know:

  • Lambie has received a tide of abuse after One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts shared her personal phone number in retaliation over her rejecting legislation to end vaccine mandates (SMH); 
  • Members of the Coalition and Labor condemned the leak, which forced Lambie to change her number;
  • Labor’s leader in the Senate, Penny Wong, urged Roberts to apologise for sharing the screenshot that showed Lambie’s number, warning “if you start a fire it can quickly overwhelm us”;
  • Roberts refused, claiming Lambie “misrepresented” One Nation because she was afraid that the party was gaining momentum;
  • McGowan meanwhile is considering moving his family out of their home after threats were allegedly made to behead him as well as his wife and children (ABC); 
  • McGowan's electorate office closed last week after threats were allegedly made against his staff by anti-vaxxers;
  • Liberal MP Gerard Rennick has been going viral on Facebook with anti-vaccine content, including his sharing of a letter falsely linking vaccines with stillbirths from a “retired GP” who recently called for the execution of New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern (The Guardian); 
  • Nationals MP Llew O’Brien is considering joining a group of rebel MPs that includes Rennick who have vowed to abstain from voting on government legislation over vaccine mandates (The Australian); 
  • A former Family First leader and a property mogul have been uncovered as creators of a network of online anti-vaccine, anti-Dan Andrews groups (Crikey). 

Domestic violence strategies revealed

The Morrison government has unveiled a Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Commission in a late night announcement, minutes before an embargo was due to lift on a Labor plan to address domestic violence.

What we know:

  • Late on Tuesday the Morrison government announced $22.4m over five years for a commission to develop policy addressing violence against women (ABC); 
  • The promise came just before Labor went public with plans to appoint a new commissioner for family and sexual violence and fund 500 new community sector workers under a $153m policy (The Conversation); 
  • The Labor plan would enable shelters to employ an extra case manager, community organisations to hire a financial counsellor to advise women, and women’s services to take on a support worker to counsel children;
  • In a new guide for policymakers Our Watch called for structural rather than individual change and more focus on male perpetrators to deal with the rising rates of domestic violence (The Age); 
  • The number of police-recorded victims of family and domestic sexual assault increased by 13% in 2020;
  • On average, one woman is killed each week by their partner and violence is the leading cause of preventable death and injury among women aged 15-44.

National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service 1800 737 732


Back-to-back La Niña under way

The Bureau of Meteorology has declared a La Niña weather event is under way, typically associated with a cool, wet summer for much of Australia.

Warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures near Australia and abnormally cool water in the central and eastern Pacific characterise a La Niña event (Weatherzone). 

The temperature contrast in turn strengthens trade winds over the western Pacific, causing more moisture-laden air to flow towards Australia, resulting in rain.

Following on from the same phenomenon last summer, this is the first back-to-back La Niña in a decade.

Australia is already feeling the impacts of La Niña, with widespread rain, thunderstorms and flooding across the country over the last week and more expected in coming days (Nine). 

Warmer oceans near northern Australia can bring forward the cyclone season, helping explain the early arrival of Tropical Cyclone Paddy.


Senate rejects ABC, SBS inquiry

A government-led inquiry into how the ABC and SBS handle complaints has been voted down in the Senate.

The inquiry, headed by Liberal senator Andrew Bragg, was dismissed by critics as a backdoor process to attack and undermine the independence of the ABC (The Guardian). 

An independent review of the ABC’s complaints system was already under way.

The Greens and Labor motion to suspend the Liberal inquiry was backed by the crossbench and passed.

ABC chair Ita Buttrose had branded the inquiry as “political interference” by the Morrison government.

“It was another tactic in a long line of attacks from the Liberals and Nationals who have spent eight years trying to crush the ABC,” said Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

However, minutes before the adjournment on Tuesday night, Liberal senator Gerard Rennick sought leave to have his vote re-committed, meaning the outcome is likely to be reversed today.


New Speaker Wallace has big shoes to fill

As per tradition, Wallace feigned reluctance as he was dragged by his colleagues to the speaker's chair (ABC). 

Wallace has been the member for the Queensland electorate of Fisher since 2016, and worked as a carpenter and barrister before entering parliament.

The speaker’s role is becoming more important due to the increasingly partisan nature of politics (The Conversation). 

Smith received a standing ovation for his work, lauded across the aisle as a fair and considered speaker during his tenure. 


You may bring shame to your family’s reputation.

The Morrison government, which appears entirely unfamiliar with the concept of “shame”, responds to the exploitation of migrant workers by distributing posters that threaten deportation for any bold enough to abscond from their jobs (SBS).


Postscript: A Michigan woman tried to hire an assassin online at Now, she’s going to prison

The website promised her confidentiality. It boasted of industry awards. It showed off testimonials of satisfied customers, including one from Laura S, who had “caught my husband cheating with the babysitter.” The website bragged about complying with HIPPA, which it said was “the Hitman Information Privacy & Protection Act of 1964” (The Washington Post).


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