Friday, April 21, 2017

Malcolm Turnbull and Manus riots

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has denied changes to Australia’s visa and citizenship programs are motivated by his poor polling. Speaking on the ABC’s 7.30 last night, Turnbull dismissed questions by host Leigh Sales linking the announcements to Newspoll results as “cynical” and said the new citizenship requirements would enshrine “Australian values” like democracy, the rule of law and gender equality.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has alleged a riot on Manus Island that threatened the lives of asylum seekers was sparked by detention centre detainees leading a small child into the compound. The attack on Good Friday saw an armed group of Manus locals and Papua New Guinean soldiers storm the detention centre and injure several people, firing live rounds and assaulting refugees, staff and immigration officers. Dutton’s allegation contradicts statements by PNG authorities blaming a fight on a soccer field as the cause of the riot, and refugees inside the centre have fiercely denied Dutton’s version of events. Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani, who has been held on Manus for nearly four years, called Dutton’s claim a “dangerous lie” and accused him of “making refugees and staff less safe”.

Labor will announce a suite of affordable housing policies today, pre-empting the government’s own housing package due to be revealed in the May budget. Leader Bill Shorten and shadow treasurer Chris Bowen will unveil seven new policies, including a tax on investors who leave properties in major cities unoccupied, increased application fees for foreigners looking to invest, an affordable housing finance corporation with special provisions for people vulnerable to homelessness and domestic violence, and the restoration of the housing portfolio in Cabinet. The new measures come on top of existing policies watering down negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions.

The Productivity Commission has spoken out against the government’s new decentralisation policy, warning that forced relocations to the regions will strip public agencies of technical expertise and provide little employment benefit in country towns. The commission’s initial Transitioning Regional Economies report, released today, comes after Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority chief Kareena Arthy resigned yesterday, leaving the agency without a leader as it struggles to move from Canberra to Armidale in regional New South Wales. The report warns that there is “an increased risk that the move to Armidale will weaken the APVMA, increasing the costs borne by the Australian Government and taxpayers, and hampering the organisation’s work,” noting that “finding qualified scientists for the APVMA in Armidale might be problematic”.

And the final episode of Clarke and Dawe has aired on the ABC, bringing its 20-year run on the network to an end. The episode, filmed on April 5 several days before Clarke’s death, was shown at the end of last night’s 7.30 episode with permission from Bryan Dawe and John Clarke’s family.

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Open Quotemarks

GREENS DEPUTY LEADER BROKE LAWS, TOOK DRUGS

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HERALD SUN COLUMNIST AND SUBSTITUTE TEACHER ANDREW BOLT ON SCOTT LUDLAM
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The heart of whiteness: Ijeoma Oluo interviews Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who identifies as black

“For two years, I, like many other black women who talk or write about racial justice, have tried to avoid Rachel Dolezal—but she follows us wherever we go. So if I couldn't get away from her, I was going to at least try to figure out why. I surprised myself by agreeing to the interview.” the stranger

Climate change is turning dehydration into a deadly epidemic

“Back in Tierra Blanca, Juan Pablo Paniagua, a lean 60-year-old with a permanent toothy grin, talks about how the disease caught him totally by surprise. Working in the cornfields since he was a boy, then as a fisherman, he felt fine until seven years ago. ‘Then your body starts feeling something strange. You don’t know what it is,’ he says. ‘You don’t feel any kind of pain, but you feel like you are slowly decaying.’ ” mosaic

Mike Judge, the bard of suck

“Judge has been exploring the contours of American suckiness for his whole career, so it’s no surprise that in what most Americans would consider a difficult year, his vision resonates. But Judge has spent much of his time as a satirist focusing on less self-evidently stupid targets. In Office Space, it was the micromanagers who turned a central aspiration of the American dream – white-collar work – into a fluorescent-lit nightmare. Now, on Silicon Valley, entering its fourth season on HBO, it is the upward-failing sociopaths of the tech industry, who envelop their monopolistic ardor in homilies about changing the world.”the new york times magazine

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Q. 

Is there anyone the housing affordability crisis hasn’t affected?

“Australian home ownership has dipped to its lowest level since the aftermath of World War II, when government focus on supply on the urban fringes unleashed a wave of home ownership. There’s been a steady decline in home ownership among households aged under-45 years since the early 1990s and the trend has gathered pace since the early 2000s.”  fairfax

A. 

Federal politicians seem to be doing just fine.

“Ninety-six per cent of parliamentarians own a property. Only 10 out of our 224 elected officials aren’t in the game. Compare that to the rest of Australia, where home ownership is expected to dip below 50 per cent sometime this year. The average property-owning parliamentarian has 2.4 titles to their name. While we’re splitting houses in half, the comparison is that the average Australian only owns half a house.”  abc

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and finally:

Former manager of the Times Square Olive Garden shares harrowing war stories

“Joe Wadlington is currently ‘writing a book about guys who don’t text back,’ but he might be better off writing about guys who managed the most horrifically placed chain restaurants in the world. On a recent date, he discovered that his potential paramour used to be the general manager for the Olive Garden restaurant in Times Square, a restaurant that operates much differently than its contemporaries and attracts a much different crowd.”the av club

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor, and a former editor of Junkee.