Cabinet documents from 2013 obtained by the ABC reveal then-immigration minister Scott Morrison allowed his department to intervene in ASIO security checks to stop asylum seekers being given permanent protection visas. The broadcaster reports that Morrison approved a suggestion from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection that his secretary should ask ASIO to delay security checks, so that changes to immigration law could come into effect in time to deny many applicants permanent protection. The documents reveal as many as 700 people were affected by the “mitigation strategies … to reduce the likelihood of a permanent protection visa grant” adopted by Morrison and the DIBP, although it is not known if ASIO agreed to delay its checks.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for an attack on an army post near Kabul that killed 11 soldiers. The attack on the Marshal Fahim National Defence University came just two days after an ambulance bomb in the capital killed more than 100 people, while 18 people were killed last week when the Taliban attacked Kabul’s International Hotel. In response to the upsurge in violence, United States President Donald Trump has reportedly authorised the deployment of more US ground troops to assist and train Afghan security forces. A report prepared for US Congress in October found the Taliban now controls roughly 40 per cent of the country.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has declared that the date of Australia Day will not change as long as he is prime minister. In an interview with News Corp columnist Miranda Devine on Monday, Turnbull said those pushing for the date of Australia’s national holiday to be moved from January 26 were “a disgrace”, claiming that “the overwhelming majority of Australians want to keep Australia Day on the 26th of January and agree with the patriotic sentiments we’re expressing”. Tens of thousands of people marched in Invasion Day rallies on Friday, including an estimated 60,000 in Melbourne, to advocate for Indigenous rights and justice.
Progressive activist group GetUp! and right-wing think-tank the Institute of Public Affairs have both criticised government plans to outlaw foreign political donations. While GetUp!, the Greens and left-leaning groups have opposed the move on the grounds that they may stifle political expression, IPA research fellow Gideon Rozner told Fairfax the law “represents a dangerous restriction on freedom of speech” that would affect “charities, religious organisations, industry associations [and] service clubs”.
And pop singer Bruno Mars and rapper Kendrick Lamar have swept the 2018 Grammy music awards. Mars won record and album of the year for his album, 24K Magic, as well as song of the year for That’s What I Like, while Lamar picked up four awards, including best rap album for DAMN. This year’s ceremony featured heavy social and political elements. Pop singer Kesha, who has long claimed she was sexually assaulted by her producer, Lukasz Gottwald, performed her single, Praying, with members of the #MeToo movement. Lamar performed a politically charged rendition of XXX. with U2’s Bono and the Edge, while rapper Jay-Z labelled Donald Trump a “superbug”.