Immigration minister Peter Dutton has claimed that refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island lied about being threatened by locals, despite video evidence validating their stories. Videos given to Guardian Australia by refugees show a man making death threats against detainees at the West Haus transit centre, shouting “you are a dead man” and “I will kill you” while waving a weapon. Speaking to reporters in Melbourne, Dutton said the claims were “complete nonsense”, claiming refugees were trying to “pump out this propaganda” to sway the government into bringing them to Australia. The controversy came after a United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination report urged the government to “halt its policy of offshore processing of asylum claims” and “transfer all migrants, asylum seekers and refugees to Australia”.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has faced off with dissatisfied voters on a special end-of-year episode of Q&A. Appearing solo on the ABC TV current affairs show last night, Turnbull faced questions on his Uluru Statement stance, the humanitarian crisis on Manus Island and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation’s role in leaks against political opponents. Turnbull repeated his claim that the Indigenous Voice to Parliament would be a “third chamber”, saying a referendum on the issue would “go down in flames” and urging “respect” for Aboriginal members of parliament. Turnbull also refused to confirm he would implement the recommendations of the royal commission into institutional responses into child sexual abuse, and also said suggestions “that I or my Government or Australia generally is anti-Chinese” were “absolutely outrageous”.
Private schools will receive more than their current total funding needs from the federal government’s Gonski 2.0 education plan, according to documents obtained under Freedom of Information by Fairfax. Hundreds of private schools in New South Wales and Victoria alone will receive more than 100 per cent of their funding needs from federal and state governments by 2027, constituting a huge rise in the number of private schools funded primarily through public money. Save Our Schools convenor Trevor Cobbold said the funding arrangements would “cost taxpayers many millions of dollars over the next decade and divert funds from where they are most needed”.
Labor MP Linda Burney has called on Senator Sam Dastyari to “consider his position” in the wake of multiple revelations about Dastyari’s ties to Chinese government-backed donors. Speaking to Sky News, Burney said Dastyari was “thinking very deeply about his role within the party”, while manager of opposition business Tony Burke said Peter Dutton’s claim that Dastyari was a “double agent” was “the most pathetic overreach imaginable”. Huang Xiangmo, the businessman at the centre of the controversy, has donated millions of dollars to the Labor and Liberal parties in the past five years, including $40,000 to the Western Australian Liberals ($), $44,000 to the NSW Liberals and $150,000 to NSW Labor. Tim Xu, Huang’s former adviser, has been campaigning ($) to re-elect John Alexander at the upcoming Bennelong byelection.
And in the United States, a 27-year-old man has been arrested after detonating a bomb on the New York City subway. Four people were injured when Akayed Ullah allegedly set off an explosive device in a subway passageway near the Port Authority bus terminal, although fire department commissioner Daniel Nigro said nobody other than Ullah suffered anything more than “ringing ears and headaches”. Governor Andrew Cuomo encouraged New Yorkers to go about their business, saying disruption “is exactly what they want, and that is exactly what they’re not going to get".