Four people have been critically injured in Melbourne after a man drove a car into a crowd of pedestrians. The 32-year-old man, who was arrested shortly after the vehicle came to a stop, drove into a busy pedestrian intersection outside Flinders Street Station. A second man, 24, was arrested for filming the incident, and was found to be carrying knives when searched. Victoria Police said they believe the incident was “a deliberate act”, and that the driver was an Australian citizen of Afghan descent known to police through a history of assault charges, drug use and mental illness.
Despite Victoria Police saying there was no evidence of a connection to terrorism, the incident has been co-opted as such by far-right and anti-Islam groups online. United Patriots Front leader Blair Cottrell, News Corp columnist Miranda Devine and former Daily Mail columnist Katie Hopkins spread misinformation to that effect, while News.com.au published a photo of a bearded, brown-skinned man in restraints surrounded by police who was later cleared of any involvement.
The Nick Xenophon Team has suspended negotiations with the government over legislation before the Senate unless the government reveals more about its policies and processes. Writing to defence minister Marise Payne, NXT Senator Rex Patrick said “there is a broader problem with regard to the government’s preparedness to be appropriately open and accountable”. While the NXT will not refuse to vote on legislation, it will not negotiate with government representatives, making it difficult for the government to predict how the NXT bloc will vote. The suspension will apply to welfare reforms proposed by human services minister Alan Tudge, which would expand the cashless welfare card.
New South Wales opposition leader Luke Foley has pledged not to reintroduce the Safe Schools anti-LGBTI bullying program if NSW Labor wins the next state election. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Foley said the program was “gone for good” and he did not want “some theory that comes from a university sociology course” dictating how schools approach anti-bullying initiatives. Foley’s stance contrasts with that of Victorian Labor Premier Daniel Andrews, who vowed to maintain state funding for the program after it was targeted by the federal government in 2016. The Daily Telegraph campaigned strongly against Safe Schools, labelling $ the program “politicised gender theory” that “seeks to undermine family life”.
And in the United States, President Donald Trump has threatened to cut off foreign aid to countries that voted for a United Nations resolution condemning the US’ recent decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In a letter to more than 180 nations, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Trump “will be watching the vote carefully” and “requested I report back on those who voted against us”, adding on Twitter that “the US will be taking names”. At a cabinet meeting in Washington, DC, Trump complained that “all of these nations … take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars and then they vote against us”, declaring: “let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.” 128 countries voted for the resolution, with only 9 joining the US in opposition and 35, including Australia, Canada and Argentina, abstaining. Haley was forced to veto a UN Security Council resolution calling on the US to reverse its decision, and the European Union, US allies the United Kingdom, France and Germany, and Pope Francis have all called the Jerusalem proclamation a mistake.