Ghost candidates haunt One Nation

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation is running a network of “ghost” candidates who live far from the seats they are contesting and have done no campaigning whatsoever.

What we know:

  • At least a dozen One Nation candidates have no electoral presence or visible online footprint in the seats they are contesting (ABC); 
  • Some reside in a different state, such as Vanessa Atkinson, the candidate for the seat of Mallee in Victoria, who lives near Bundaberg in Queensland;
  • Diane Pepe, the party’s candidate in the north Queensland city of Townsville, lives in suburban Melbourne (The Guardian); 
  • There is no public information or photos at all of Narelle Seymour, One Nation’s candidate for the southern Sydney seat of Hughes, who has been deleted from the party website (ABC); 
  • The electoral watchdog is reviewing Seymour’s nomination, whose candidate eligibility form contained only a mistyped sentence that read: “Husband was is an Australina born citizen” (The New Daily); 
  • The party had pledged to contest every seat in the House of Representatives, but 90 of the candidates were only lodged just before nominations closed;
  • One Nation was still trying to find candidates just hours before the nominating deadline, telling one person the party didn’t “require you to do anything or campaign at all” (The Guardian). 
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Sogavare slams ‘backyard’ bluster

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has accused Australia and civil society groups of trying to undermine his government in the wake of a security deal with China.

What we know:

  • Sogavare hit out at Australian ministers characterising the Solomon Islands as being in Australia’s “backyard” and called for respect “as a sovereign independent nation” (SBS); 
  • He said the backyard is where “rubbish is collected and burnt” and where people go to the toilet (SBM); 
  • Sogavare also criticised the West’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and praised China’s treatment of Christians (ABC); 
  • The leader said civil society groups in the Solomon Islands that denounced the security pact were “racists” and “bigots” being manipulated by “foreign masters”;
  • He criticised the “hypocrisy which bleeds through the strategies employed by some of our partners, working with some of their agents on the ground, to give the government a hard time for non-justifiable reasons," he said;
  • Sogavare was also disappointed that Australia failed to let the Solomons know about its new security pact with the US and UK;
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison admitted he had not spoken with Sogavare since the start of the election campaign, despite his government’s concern about the deal with China (The Guardian); 
  • Opposition leader Anthony Albanese chided the prime minister for not picking up the phone to Sogavare;
  • Experts have suggested Sogavare’s deal with China was partly motivated by his desire for personal security due to a shallow relationship with Australia (The Saturday Paper). 
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Budget blamed for rate rise

Economists have warned that short-term handouts in the federal budget helped fuel inflation and triggered the Reserve Bank’s interest rate hike.

The budget contained $25bn in extra spending initiatives over the next four years, including $5bn for the $250 cost-of-living bonus and the 22.1¢-a-litre reduction in fuel excise (The Age). 

“Interest rates are higher than they would otherwise be because of the budget, 100%,” said Australian National University economist Steven Hamilton.

The 0.25% rate hike to 0.35% will also add tens of billions of dollars to interest costs on the federal government’s projected $1.2tn debt (AFR $). 

The 10-year government bond yield jumped to 3.6% on Wednesday, well above the 2.3% budget forecast to the middle of the decade.

International pressures are the primary driver of inflation, with the US Federal Reserve overnight raising interest rates by half a percentage point — the biggest jump in 22 years (Reuters). 

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Australia’s free press ranking slides

Australia has slid down the global media freedom rankings from 25th to 39th place, according to an international journalism watchdog.

Australia dropped down the rankings of the Reporters Without Borders' (RSF) World Press Freedom Index for 2022 (ABC). 

“Ultra-concentration of media ownership, combined with growing official pressure, endanger public-interest journalism” in Australia, RSF said.

The group said police raids on media in 2019 had created “an alarming legal precedent that threatens the survival of public-interest journalism”.

About 90% of Australian journalists surveyed said they feared threats and intimidation were rising.

North Korea sat at the bottom of the rankings in 180th place, while China, Vietnam and Bangladesh also ranked as some of the most repressive environments.

Norway sat on top of the list, with its fellow Scandinavian neighbours Denmark and Sweden close behind.

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Qantas ground crew sacking illegal

Qantas has lost its appeal against a Federal Court decision that ruled the outsourcing of thousands of ground crew workers was illegal.

The finding means the airline may have to compensate the sacked workers and face additional penalties (The New Daily). 

To avoid that Qantas plans to appeal the decision in the High Court.

Roughly 1680 workers lost their jobs in 2021 due to Qantas outsourcing ground-handling operations at 10 Australian airports, in a bid to save more than $100m a year.

The court ruled that Qantas will not have to reinstate the jobs as that would force the company to recreate its ground operations, involving large capital expenditure and significant delay.

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They’re probably exposed to antibiotics at some point, but we can’t determine in what context and for what purpose.

In the biggest food mystery since people went about hiding needles in fruit, a study has found 55% of beef samples and 39% of salmon samples in Australian supermarkets appear to have been mysteriously spiked with antibiotics (ABC).

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Postscript: World’s Most Dangerous Toy? Radioactive Atomic Energy Lab Kit with Uranium (1950)

The Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab was an actual radioactive toy and learning set sold in the early 1950s. The $49.50 set came with four samples of uranium-bearing ores (autunite, torbernite, uraninite, and carnotite), as well as a Geiger-Mueller radiation counter and various other tools (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists).

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