Aid offered to stop Sri Lanka boats

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil has flown to Sri Lanka to unveil aid assistance, as Labor seeks further support from the island’s government in preventing asylum seekers from fleeing the crisis-hit region.

What we know:

  • Australia has offered $50m in development assistance for food and health care in Sri Lanka, which is suffering acute shortages of food, petrol, medicine and other essentials (7News); 
  • O’Neil flew to Colombo for meetings with Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe about combating people smuggling;
  • Today O’Neil will open a new fisheries monitoring centre to provide maritime surveillance of fishing trawlers favoured by people smugglers (The Australian $); 
  • The Sri Lankan navy has been given priority access to fuel as it tries to stop boats leaving for Australia (SMH); 
  • Fuel is so scarce that there are vast queues at petrol stations, buses have stopped running, many fishermen are unable to go out to sea, and hospitals are cancelling major surgeries because staff can’t get to work;
  • Australia returned another 23 asylum seekers to Sri Lanka on Monday, having intercepted four boats in recent weeks;
  • Refugee advocates have criticised Labor for using the highly publicised return of the Murugappan family to Biloela “to whitewash its own appalling refugee policies” (Tamil Guardian); 
  • Food inflation reached 57% in Sri Lanka last month, and most families are feeling the effects of hunger as civil unrest grows (Washington Post); 
  • The Sri Lankan government has suspended payments on its foreign debt, as talks with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout package began this week.

Nuclear test survivors call for ban

First Nations survivors of nuclear tests have told the UN that Australia must do more to address the impact of the explosions, and to sign a key global treaty.

What we know:

  • The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) invited survivors of 1950s outback nuclear tests to address a conference in Vienna (ABC); 
  • Survivors explained how the tests conducted by the British government at Maralinga and Emu Fields affected the health of generations of families from the region, who never gave consent to the testing;
  • June Lennon, who was in the audience, said she was only a week old when her father covered her with a tarp to protect her from a nuclear blast;
  • “Most of our grandchildren have got pretty bad eyesight, and we were born basically with epilepsy — it’s quite likely that I’m going to die because I’ve got bleeding from my kidneys,” Lennon said;
  • Key details of the outback nuclear tests remain shrouded in unusual levels of British and Australian government secrecy (The Saturday Paper); 
  • Last year, Australian researchers found that radioactive particles released during the explosions remained highly reactive;
  • The survivors called on the Australian government to sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which came into force last year;
  • A group of 55 former Australian ambassadors and high commissioners have seperately written an open letter to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also urging he sign up (The Guardian); 
  • While in opposition Albanese pledged Labor would ratify the treaty if it won the election, but he has only sent backbencher Susan Templeman to attend the meeting as an observer.

New bid to delay Parliament rape trial

Lawyers for the man accused of raping Brittany Higgins will today bid to have the trial delayed again due to a speech made at the Logie Awards.

Lisa Wilkinson on Sunday won the Logie for Most Outstanding News Coverage or Public Affairs Report for her work on the Brittany Higgins case (ABC). 

Lawyers for Bruce Lehrmann, who has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting Higgins inside Parliament House in 2019, cited Wilkinson’s acceptance speech as reason to delay his trial, which is due to begin on June 27.

Lehrmann’s barrister, Steve Whybrow, claimed more than 800,000 searches were made in relation to Ms Wilkinson’s speech on Monday alone.

Whybrow also listed reactions on social media, as well as a radio program and other news outlets, as evidence of intense attention in the lead-up to the start of the trial.

Lehrmann tried to have the case delayed in April, but the court ordered the trial to go ahead as scheduled ( 

However, the trial was delayed until June after it emerged he no longer had a barrister.


Dutton seeks another day in court

Dutton has filed an application for special leave to appeal against his loss in the full federal court (The Guardian). 

The Liberal leader argued that the appeal court erred by finding Bazzi’s tweet “Peter Dutton is a rape apologist” did not convey the defamatory meaning that he “excused rape”.

Bazzi’s tweet, since deleted, included a link to a 2019 article reporting comments by Dutton that female refugees in offshore detention were “trying it on” by claiming they had been raped and needed to travel to Australia to have abortions.

In their new appeal Dutton’s lawyers argue that a reader of the tweet would not necessarily know what was in the linked article.

They said the question of how “hyperlinks displaying snippets of other publications” affected the meaning of social media posts had not been considered by the high court.

Dutton won in the federal court at first instance, receiving an order for $35,000 compensation, but the decision was overturned on appeal.


Millions displaced by monsoon

Dozens of people have died and millions left stranded from severe monsoon storms sweeping India and Bangladesh.

At least 59 people have died in lightning strikes and landslides triggered by the storms, with flooding expected to worsen over the next few days (BBC). 

Bangladesh government officials have described the recent flooding as the country’s worst since 2004.

Unrelenting rains over the last week have inundated vast swathes of the country's north-east region, exacerbated by run-off from heavy downpours across mountains in India.

Some 3.1 million people have been displaced in the region, officials said, with 200,000 being housed in makeshift shelters on higher ground.

The region has experienced increasingly chaotic monsoon seasons in recent years, with climate change exacerbating the trend (DW). 


I felt like I needed to be okay with these jokes and language that’s passed around the club to be respected by the male members but really it just makes you feel really small.

If the field seems unusually empty at the next women’s home game of the South Bunbury Football Club in country WA, that’s because almost the entire team has resigned over allegations of sexism and racism (ABC).


Postscript: Experience the dazzling displays that fireflies create when humans are far away

Only a few species synchronise their light signals, and rarely in such large congregations as Murali captures within the reserve, protected from human activity and artificial light. Set against a near-pitch black backdrop, the small blinking patterns on display combine to form a stunning glimpse into the phenomena of both bioluminescence and emergence (Aeon).


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