Papua New Guinea police and immigration authorities have stormed the former offshore detention centre compound on Manus Island, arresting Kurdish Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani and destroying refugee accommodation and possessions. Boochani, who has extensively covered the deteriorating conditions inside the Manus compound, tweeted that he was arrested and handcuffed “for more than two hours” after initially hiding from PNG police in one of the centre’s toilets. Speaking on Sydney’s 2GB radio, immigration minister Peter Dutton claimed refugees on Manus “had basically their own personal butlers and cleaning maids up there for years”, saying “they have trashed the facility” and that “under no circumstance will these people be coming to Australia”. Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance chief executive Paul Murphy said Boochani’s arrest was “an egregious attack on press freedom” and pledged to bring the incident “to the immediate attention of the International Federation of Journalists”. More than 300 refugees remain in the centre.
Foreign minister Julie Bishop has opened the door to a formal investigation into cabinet leaks after reports earlier this week revealed the government briefly considered dropping its opposition to a royal commission into the banking sector. The Daily Telegraph reported ($) on Wednesday that several ministers had agitated for a policy reversal at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, revealing that at least one minister has leaked confidential cabinet discussions to the press. Bishop denied claims from columnist Andrew Bolt that she benefited from the leak, saying she would support “a formal investigation”. Peter Dutton said he had “a gut feeling” as to the leaker’s identity, but would “leave it to that person to out themselves”.
Former Liberal MP for Bennelong John Alexander has apologised after footage of him making jokes involving rape was published by BuzzFeed. The footage, taken at a Brisbane pub by former Gladiators contestant Alex Sanz in 1995, shows Alexander telling a joke about "a black guy in Chicago" who "is witness to a rape and ... been called into court". In a statement, Alexander said “I apologise unreservedly”, saying “there is no place for jokes about violence against women”. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said it was “a measure of the man and of the dignity of the man that he has acknowledged that those remarks were unacceptable”. Alexander’s campaign to win his former seat has been marred by embarrassing blunders, including a campaign photo that went viral after it was pointed out that none of the phones supposedly used to “chat to local residents about creating jobs” were plugged in.
And Queensland treasurer Curtis Pitt has released a plan to raise taxes on foreign land purchases, luxury cars and online gambling companies ahead of the Queensland election tomorrow. Debt, the Adani coal mine and One Nation have dominated the campaign, with opposition leader Tim Nicholls refusing to rule out using One Nation support to form government. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has taken a conciliatory tone toward the proposed Carmichael mine, conceding that public money may be used to help the mine’s viability. Galaxy polling for the Courier-Mail has Palaszczuk’s Labor government eking out a narrow victory, while One Nation’s support has declined from 18 per cent to 12 per cent over the course of the campaign.