Morrison bets on Berejiklian revival

Prime Minister Scott Morrison directly lobbied Gladys Berejiklian to nominate for the federal seat of Warringah, and personally intervened to delay the close of preselection nominations.

What we know:

  • Morrison last week sought to delay the close of preselection nominations following a phone call with Berejiklian in which she agreed to consider running against incumbent independent Zali Steggall (The Australian); 
  • Treasurer Josh Frydenberg also lobbied Berejiklian to run;
  • Nominations for preselection were due to close last Friday but have been delayed until ­January 14;
  • To the dismay of legal experts, Morrison has disparaged the ICAC investigation into Berejiklian as “an absolute disgrace” and “shameful” (The Guardian); 
  • Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen said the Liberals and the media would be outraged if his party nominated a candidate under investigation by a corruption inquiry (The Conversation); 
  • Steggall said Morrison’s behaviour over ICAC was “outrageous” and “we should be seeing leadership to raise trust, call for more accountability, not undermine accountability”;
  • Former prime minister Tony Abbott backed Berejiklian to take his old seat, applauding her “instinct for freedom” and resistance to “virus panic” (SMH); 
  • If Berejiklian runs in Warringah, she’ll have to reconcile her previous support for a 2030 emissions target twice as high as Morrison’s (Crikey); 
  • It comes as the Coalition moves to quash a wave of independent candidates taking on the party in its heartland seats over climate change (The Saturday Paper). 

Labor’s emissions target not up for debate

Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen has said his party’s emissions reduction target is not up for negotiation, after Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the party could cut a deal with the Greens.

What we know:

  • Morrison said Labor’s target of 43% by 2030 is merely an “opening bid” that would be pushed higher if the opposition were forced into a coalition government with the Greens (SBS); 
  • Bowen ruled out negotiation on the target during a speech to the National Press Club, hitting out at “a “toxic but effective fear campaign about the economic costs of climate action”;
  • “In a crowded field, the tactics of Scott Morrison at the last election win the prize for being the low point of sophistry and toxicity,” he said;
  • Labor’s target gained the support of the Business Council of Australia and Australian Industry Group;
  • Labor’s plan is strong on domestic renewables but offers little ambition on transport emissions and fossil fuel exports (Renew Economy); 
  • It remains stronger than the Morrison government’s goal of cutting emissions by up to 28% by 2030.

Queensland opens to fully vaxxed

Queensland will reopen its borders to interstate Covid-19 hotspots on December 13, as the state approaches its target of full vaccinations for 80% of the population over 16.

Queensland has had hotspot declarations over NSW and Victoria since July, and the ACT since August (InQueensland). 

Fully vaccinated travellers from hotspots will be able to come into Queensland without completing any quarantine from 1am on December 13.

Most must test negative to Covid-19 in the previous three days to arrival.

Vaccinated residents of the Queensland-NSW border zone can cross without needing a negative Covid test, but will still need a border pass.

Unvaccinated travellers coming from hotspots will be required to go into hotel quarantine for 14 days and can only come by air.

“We know how important it is to reunite families, especially coming up to this really special time of year of Christmas,” said Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.


Suu Kyi sentenced to two years jail

A court in Myanmar has sentenced ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi to two years jail after finding her guilty of incitement and violating pandemic restrictions.

It is the first ruling in a series of cases brought against the 76-year-old Nobel laureate since the army seized power in February, with Suu Kyi potentially facing life imprisonment (BBC). 

Former president and co-defendant Win Myint was jailed for four years under the same charges.

Suu Kyi has been under house arrest since the coup, as one of more than 10,600 people arrested by the junta.

"The harsh sentences handed down to Aung San Suu Kyi on these bogus charges are the latest example of the military’s determination to eliminate all opposition and suffocate freedoms in Myanmar," said Amnesty International’s Ming Yu Hah.


Triple treat for portrait prize

Australia’s richest art prize has been split three ways for the first time, after a trio of judges all selected different winners.

Melbourne-based artists Vincent Fantauzzo, Andrew Greensmith and Michael Vale shared the $300,000 Doug Moran National Portrait Prize (The Guardian). 

One of the three judges, artist Tim Storrier said, “Some judges are more stubborn than others, some are better informed – in this case I don’t know what it was, but we decided that we couldn’t make a decision.”

Vale credited time under lockdown for Our Ghostly Crew – featuring himself, his wife, the film-maker Donna McRae, and their dog Pancho – during Melbourne’s first lockdown last year.

Fantauzzo also said spare time in lockdown helped the process in his portrait of his wife, the actor Asher Keddie.

Greensmith shared the prize for his portrait of Holocaust survivor twins Annetta Able and Stephanie Heller.

It comes as poet Adam Aitken, a descendant of the founder of Victoria Bitter, won this year’s $15,000 Patrick White Award (The Age). 


I do not consider that the information available to me is sufficient to warrant an investigation.

Queensland’s cultural heritage director John Schiavo refuses to order Adani to stop clearing land near its Carmichael mine over concerns it is not protecting culturally significant Aboriginal artefacts. Conveniently, the longer Adani goes on clearing land, the less there is left to investigate (SMH).


Postscript: Meet the Proud Shoppers of Aldi’s ‘Aisle of Shame’

If you ever hear a “caw-caw!” sound in an Aldi grocery store, don’t worry: a crow hasn’t gotten trapped in the rafters. Rather, you’ve just overheard a member of the Aisle of Shame Facebook group sending out a call in their natural habitat (Atlas Obscura).


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