Harassment report greeted with growling

Victorian senator David Van has denied making growling dog noises during Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie’s speech on Tuesday, shortly after the release of a landmark report detailing sexual harrassment at Parliament House.

What we know:

  • Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young and Labor senator Penny Wong initially called out the alleged growling noise (SBS); 
  • Van issued an “unreserved apology” for interjecting during Lambie’s speech, but denied it was a growl, suggesting his mask had made his voice sound deeper (news.com.au); 
  • Van could not recall what he had been saying during the interjection;
  • It followed the release of the Jenkins review into parliamentary workplaces, which found 33% of people in parliamentary workplaces have personally experienced sexual harassment (The Conversation); 
  • Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins highlighted the role of power, gender inequality, a lack of accountability, a culture of entitlement and exclusion in parliament as the key drivers of the problem (The Guardian); 
  • Former prime minister Julia Gillard declared “it’s time to change our federal parliament forever,” backing the report’s call for a code of conduct (ABC); 
  • The report was triggered by the alleged sexual assault of former staffer Brittany Higgins, who called for the 28 recommendations to be implemented in full;
  • One recommendation calls for parliamentarians who sexually harass staff to be suspended and have their salaries withheld (The Age). 

Morrison vows no more lockdowns

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has vowed Australians will not be put back under lockdown due to the new Omicron variant of Covid-19, despite health experts warning they know little about the new variant.

What we know:

  • Morrison used Tuesday’s national cabinet meeting to urge state and territory leaders to stick to their reopening plans (SBS); 
  • Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly told the assembled leaders it could be two weeks before there was enough information to understand the danger of the new variant;
  • Overseas travellers will be required to complete a PCR test and self-isolate in NSW and Victoria under tightened measures (9News); 
  • NSW announced a dramatic increase in fines for non-compliance of health orders, as it recorded a fifth case of the Omicron variant (7News); 
  • Tasmania on Tuesday afternoon announced it would be closing its borders to the vast majority of overseas arrivals (The Examiner).

Regulator reviewing cosmetic surgeries

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency has announced a major review of patient safety in the cosmetic surgery sector, after safety breaches were exposed.

The regulator will work with the Medical Board of Australia to strengthen regulations to better protect patients (ABC). 

It follows an investigation into clinics operated by TikTok celebrity surgeon Dr Daniel Lanzer which uncovered serious hygiene and safety breaches and procedures that left patients in extreme pain.

The review will also consider the use of social media by cosmetic surgeons to promote their services (SMH). 

Since the initial investigation, more than 100 Lanzer clinic patients have come forward to share their harrowing experiences.


Labor ditches cleaner fuel plan

Labor will ditch a plan to set new fuel standards for motorists, in a bid to avoid political attacks from the Coalition over climate policies.

The vehicle emission standards will be formally dropped when Labor leader Anthony Albanese signs off on the party’s climate policy with shadow ministers (The Age). 

The Labor policy on fuel standards was part of a package in the 2019 election campaign to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles and 50% of new car sales by 2030.

The Coalition declared at the time Labor would “end the weekend” with the policy, and has recently suggested the party would raise petrol prices.

Labor has also been hitting the Coalition on the cost of petrol, which has jumped in recent months.

The policy on fuel standards aimed to phase in the benchmark of 105g of carbon dioxide emissions per kilometre for light vehicles, consistent with advice from the Climate Change Authority.

Australia has some of the worst fuel emission standards in the world, and stricter standards  would save motorists an estimated $8500 over a vehicle’s lifetime, and avoid millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide (Climate Analytics). 


Liberals hidden by fake Facebook accounts

The Morrison government has been accused of hypocrisy in pushing for new laws to crack down on anonymous accounts, given a host of Coalition politicians have been accused of trolling and online abuse from fake social media personas.

Assistant attorney-general Amanda Stoker admitted in question time she hyped up posts on her public Facebook account with a separate account under a different name, using her nickname and middle name “Mandy Jane” (Crikey). 

Industry Minister Angus Taylor in 2019 commented on his own Facebook post, writing: “Fantastic. Great move. Well done Angus,” in a likely failure to switch to a fake account before complimenting his own work.

Liberal MP Andrew Laming at one point operated more than 30 Facebook pages and profiles, disguising himself as a community group, news pages, and an educational institute.

Former Liberal MP Michael Gidley registered an account called Victoria Brief Talk on WeChat that spread lies in 2019 about Labor supporting a retiree tax.


It is most kind of you to bring to my attention the notice that you describe in Adelaide’s Tea Tree Plaza. You are, of course, quite correct in thinking that I never made the statements they attribute to me.

Sir David Attenborough writes a gentle letter of complaint to a Westfield shopping centre over a quote about bees inscribed onto a mural, which is falsely attributed to him (The Independent).


Postscript: Flame wars — why is Daniel Andrews being grilled over a barbecue selfie with Anthony Albanese?


It wouldn’t be an Australian election campaign without a barbecue meat-related scandal, would it? But this time it isn’t just Bill Shorten biting into a democracy sausage in landscape mode, but something potentially much more scandalous. Anthony Albanese and Daniel Andrews have been accused of faking a candid weekend barbecue snap after Twitter users pointed out their meat had a distinct lack of grill marks (The Guardian).


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