Coalition MPs to dob in independents

The Morrison government has urged MPs to dob in the Climate 200 fund and “Voices for” independent advocacy groups, under new laws requiring charities to reveal donors.

What we know:

  • A confidential email leaked on Monday night from Special Minister of State Ben Morton called on MPs to flag with the Australian Electoral Commission new groups preparing to engage in the election (SMH); 
  • “Activist organisations seeking to influence election outcomes will no longer be able to shroud their electoral income in secrecy, and will face tough rules that ban foreign donations from influencing Australian elections,” he wrote (The Guardian); 
  • Morton singled out the Voices of and Climate 200 as examples of organisations to flag with the AEC;
  • Under new laws the Coalition passed with Labor support, groups must register with the AEC as “significant third parties” if they spend more than $14,500 on elections in a financial year where that expenditure is more than a third of their revenue;
  • The Australia Institute has launched a campaign to repeal the changes, with new polling finding 60% of Australians agree that advocating for policy change is an important part of the work that charities do;
  • The NGO sector is concerned with the administrative burden the law will mean for charities, unions, climate and environment groups, even if their issues-based advocacy is only tangentially related to the election;
  • It comes as Jo Dyer, a friend of the woman who accused former attorney-general Christian Porter of rape, will stand as an independent candidate for the SA seat of Boothby (7News); 
  • Dyer has been endorsed by the Voices of campaign and is running on a platform of greater climate action, the push for a federal integrity commission and better treatment of women;
  • Former independent MP Tony Windsor warned the wave of independent candidates they can expect to be labelled political puppets funded by foreign interests (The Saturday Paper). 
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WA to open borders in February

Premier Mark McGowan has announced WA will reopen its borders to the rest of Australia at one minute past midnight on February 5, while two other states ease travel restrictions.

What we know:

  • The announcement came after the state hit an 80% vaccination rate for those aged 12 and over (7News); 
  • “We are going to be living with Covid-19 from February 5. But we’ve been preparing for its inevitable arrival,” said McGowan;
  • The state government hopes 90% of the state's population aged 12 and over will be vaccinated by the target date;
  • The borders will likely open even if the rate has not been achieved, but there may be more restrictions such as vaccine requirements to go to the pub;
  • Interstate travellers will at that point need to provide proof of vaccination and return a negative test within 72 hours of travel, and undertake another test on arrival;
  • International travellers will not need to quarantine if they have been vaccinated, but the unvaccinated will need to quarantine for two weeks;
  • It comes amid emotional reunions at Queensland airports following the easing of travel restrictions (Nine); 
  • Tasmania meanwhile is set to reopen its borders tomorrow, with people who spend time in a high-risk area in the previous seven days required to get a test within 24 hours of arrival (ABC). 
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Minister’s company poisoned grasslands

A ministerial review has found that a company part-owned by the energy minister Angus Taylor illegally poisoned critically endangered grasslands and should restore native habitat.

The decision follows an 18-month review of the original determination that ordered company Jam Land to restore 103ha of grasslands on a property in the NSW Monaro region (The Guardian). 

The review backed findings that the poison had a significant impact on the grassland of the south-eastern highlands, on a property in Corrowong.

It is the first time in the history of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act that a ministerial review of a remediation order has been sought.

Taylor controversially sought meetings with senior environment officials about the grasslands while it was under way (The Saturday Paper). 

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Deputy PM makes case for Assange

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce says Julian Assange should not be extradited to the US to face espionage charges, after Washington won a key appeal for the case.

US lawyers successfully appealed a UK court ban on the extradition, which could see the WikiLeaks founder face a maximum jail term of 175 years (SBS). 

Joyce said the Australian citizen should not be sent to the US because he was not on American soil at the time of his alleged offences, and that liberal democracies needed to uphold the “right to liberty and the right to habeas corpus” (The Age). 

“If we are content that this process of extraditing one Australian to the US for [allegedly] breaking its laws even when he was not in that country is fair, are we prepared, therefore, to accept it as a precedent for applying to any other laws of any other nation to any of our citizens?” he asked.

There are more than 20 members of a parliamentary group set up to oppose Assange’s extradition, but only three Coalition MPs have signed up, including Joyce.

Labor MP Julian Hill said he hoped Joyce’s comments would give other Coalition MPs the “courage and cover to speak up and say enough is enough”.

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Liberals spending millions on ad blitz

The Coalition will spend $5.2m of taxpayer funds to promote the Morrison government’s online safety reforms in the lead-up to next year’s election.

The advertising campaign is timed to come into effect “likely January”, ahead of an election in the first half of next year (Crikey). 

In addition to the Online Safety Act, the government will campaign for its online privacy bill and a social media anti-trolling bill.

Meanwhile the “Australia’s making positive energy” campaign promoting the Coalition’s technology based approach to climate has spent more than $200,000 on Facebook ads.

Liberal MPs used the government advertisements on their personal social media profiles.

In total, taxpayers are paying at least $59m for major government advertising campaigns to run in the lead-up to the 2022 election (The Guardian). 

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Our team is happy to facilitate the purchasing of a gift on your behalf and have it delivered to the property owner with a handwritten note to say thank you.

Queensland real estate firm Kanik & Co offers tenants the opportunity to buy their favourite landlord a Christmas gift, such as a $70 “Self Care Hamper” or the $115 “All Things Golden” package. For tenants struggling to survive increasingly exorbitant rent prices, there is always the cheaper option of the $50 “White Wine Grazing Box” (Junkee).

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Postscript: Inside your dreamscape

The beverage company Molson Coors ran what they called the “world’s largest dream study”. They explicitly aimed to place images of Coors beer, along with positive imagery (of refreshing alpine rivers, for instance), into dreamers’ minds. They hired a Harvard psychologist to design dream-incubation stimuli ... and, in a marketing coup, had the pop star Zayn Malik agree to sleep on Instagram Live while having an incubated Coors dream – though he did mention the whole project was “kinda messed up” (Aeon).

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