Albanese chairs first national cabinet

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will chair his first national cabinet meeting with state and territory leaders today, with health and energy on the agenda.

What we know:

  • State and territory leaders gathered with Albanese at The Lodge in Canberra on Thursday night ahead of a formal reunion of the body today (Nine); 
  • The states will push for an extension of the 50-50 split between the Commonwealth and state governments for pandemic-related hospital expenses, which is due to expire in September (ABC); 
  • SA Premier Peter Malinauskas will call for the domestic gas reservation system in WA to be examined as a potential solution for the east coast energy crisis (The New Daily); 
  • NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet will lobby for a boost to skilled migration, with skilled temporary visa holders in Australia down one-third since the start of the pandemic (AFR $); 
  • It comes as the Australian Medical Association calls for an overhaul of controversial national cabinet secrecy rules (The Guardian); 
  • Albanese was critical of national cabinet secrecy provisions before he was elected, and has also vowed to add local government representatives to the meetings;
  • Former prime minister Scott Morrison excluded local government when he transformed the Council of Australian Governments into national cabinet in March 2020.

Russia bans raft of Australians

Russia has sanctioned an additional 121 Australian citizens it says are fanning a “Russophobic agenda” in the country.

What we know:

  • Those named on the list are banned from entry to Russia “indefinitely”, the Russian foreign ministry said (SMH); 
  • Australian journalists and commentators made up roughly half the list, including foreign correspondents and their editors who may have covered Russia’s invasion of Ukraine;
  • The list also includes mining magnates Gina Rinehart, Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest and Rio Tinto’s iron ore boss Simon Trott (AFR $); 
  • Other business figures targeted include Atlassian co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, and property tycoon Harry Triguboff;
  • Several defence officials are also named, including Chief of the Defence Force Angus Campbell and department secretary Greg Moriarty;
  • New SA premier Peter Malinauskas is the only elected official included, potentially because of his Lithuanian heritage;
  • The Kremlin imposed a similar ban on all 227 members of the House of Representatives and the Senate in early April;
  • The Russian sanctions come in response to similar sanctions imposed by Australia on Russian military commanders and close associates of President Vladimir Putin (ABC); 
  • Meanwhile the leaders of Germany, France, Italy and Romania have supported accepting Ukraine as a candidate for EU membership (Politico). 

Border force search thousands of phones

Border force officers searched more than 40,000 computers, phones and other devices over five years, according to a freedom of information request.

Officers searched the devices at the border 41,410 times between 2017 and the end of 2021 (iTnews). 

There is no legal obligation for travellers to hand over their passcodes, but if they refuse to comply, border force can seize the device for further examination.

There is also no warrant needed and no limit on how long the devices can be held for, though border force policy is to do so for no more than 14 days.

To extract data from the phone for examination, officers will use a dedicated workstation with software to “scan files for the presence of skin tone of a person and key words of interest” (The Guardian). 

Privacy experts warn there are insufficient safeguards, with seemingly no procedures in place to stop border authorities from searching a journalist or lawyer’s phone. 


Abetz loses seat to Lambie staffer

Liberal veteran Eric Abetz has officially lost his seat, with Tammy Tyrell, of the Jacqui Lambie Network, beating him to the final upper house seat in Tasmania.

The result brings to an end Abetz’s 28-year-long stint in the Senate (Nine). 

Typically listed first on the Liberal Party Senate ticket for Tasmania, Abetz this year was put in third place, leaving him vulnerable to Tyrell’s challenge.

Tyrrell, a former staffer for Jacqui Lambie, ran on a platform of “people before politics”, vowing to represent Tasmanians from all walks of life (Crikey). 

The Liberals won two of the six seats up for grabs in Tasmania, as did Labor, with the Greens and Jacqui Lambie Network splitting the remaining two.

Either the Jacqui Lambie Network, One Nation or independent David Pocock’s vote will be needed alongside the Greens for the Albanese government to pass legislation in the Senate without the support of the Liberals.


ABC news boss sorry for racist abuse

ABC news director Justin Stevens has apologised to staff after a “disturbing” report uncovered racism at the national broadcaster.

The report, written by a group of ABC staff on the diversity committee, found some Indigenous and culturally diverse staff experienced racism (SMH).  

“To anyone in news who has ever experienced any racism or bigotry in our workplace, current and former news employees, as director, news, I would like to express my sorrow for that and make a heartfelt apology,” Stevens said in an email sent to staff.

He said culturally diverse staff also said they were subject to especially intense abuse on social media and via email following stories.

ABC managing director David Anderson will lead an organisation-wide effort to improve the broadcaster’s culture, including by holding staff forums and consulting outside experts.


I’ve always spoken through the voices of others.

Author John Hughes, whose latest novel has been exposed for lifting entire passages from classic novels including The Great Gatsby and Anna Karenina, pens an opinion column arguing he is not a plagiarist (The Guardian).


Postscript: Minimum wage worker celebrates $1-an-hour raise by buying 450ml of petrol

Factory worker Simon Nguyen says he’s ecstatic about the minimum wage ruling by the Fair Work Commission and plans to commemorate the news by putting just under half a litre of unleaded in his 2004 Toyota Camry tonight. “I’m getting a few mates around to the petrol station to watch me measure out the 450mls,” an excited Nguyen explained (The Shovel).


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