Friday, February 02, 2018

Yam Island flooding sparks protests

Residents of Yam Island in the Torres Strait have held protests calling for aid after high tides forced evacuations yesterday. Photos and videos posted on social media showed severe flooding of streets and houses, while a $25 million seawall on nearby Saibai Island was also breached. Speaking to the Cairns Post, Torres Strait Island Regional Council Mayor Fred Gela said council-owned homes built in a low-lying area were at risk, and that “tidal predictions for the next 30-60 years say that area will be completely underwater”. Emergency services minister Craig Crawford conceded that “we are having sea level rises occurring across the globe”, saying residents may be eligible for disaster relief aid.

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd is suing the ABC after the broadcaster reported he was warned of “critical risks” in the then-Labor government’s home insulation program in 2009. On Tuesday the ABC published reports of Cabinet documents alleging that Rudd, then-deputy prime minister Julia Gillard and other members of the so-called “Gang of Four” senior cabinet team were warned of risks inherent in the insulation scheme, although the nature of the risks were not specified. In a statement, Rudd said “the report by the ABC alleging I ignored warnings on risks to the safety of installers of home insulation is a lie”. Rudd claimed the documents in question were viewed by the royal commission into the scheme in 2014, which cleared him of any wrongdoing. ASIO officers secured the files on Thursday, escorting them out of the ABC’s Canberra offices in locked safes that hopefully won’t turn up at a suburban garage sale anytime soon.

Labor MP David Feeney has resigned from Parliament, triggering a byelection in the inner Melbourne seat of Batman that could see Labor lose the seat to The Greens. Feeney resigned after failing to produce proof that he renounced his dual British citizenship before the 2016 federal election, saying he was standing aside to make way for a candidate that could give “150 per cent of their effort, their commitment and their passion”. Former Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Ged Kearney is firming as Labor’s likely candidate, while The Greens will run ex-candidate Alex Bhathal. Feeney held Batman by just 2 per cent in 2016, and The Greens convincingly won the overlapping state seat of Northcote in November 2017.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is officially Australia’s single largest political donor, according to new electoral donations disclosures published yesterday. Turnbull donated $1,750,000 to the federal Liberal Party in late 2016. Federal donation disclosure laws only required the Australian Electoral Commission to publish details from the 2016-2017 financial year yesterday, allowing individuals and companies to make large donations without the details becoming public for up to 19 months. The Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, PwC, Wesfarmers Limited, Star Entertainment Group, Bluescope Steel and the Macquarie Group were among a large number of companies that made significant donations to both major parties.

And British MPs will move out of the Houses of Parliament in Westminster Palace for at least six years to allow for £3.5 billion of urgent repairs to the historic complex. A Guardian report in December detailed how Westminster had fallen into a state of dangerous disrepair, compounded by political reluctance to spend taxpayer money on refurbishing MP’s offices in an age of austerity. MPs narrowly voted to temporarily relocate Parliament for a “full decant” of Westminster, expected to begin sometime in the 2020s. It will be the first time Parliament has moved since the Blitz in the 1940s.

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Open Quotemarks

Travelling on a tram in Adelaide today in between meetings!

Close Quotemarks
CHRISTOPHER PYNE RIDES PUBLIC TRANSPORT, LIKE A REAL BOY
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Hostile environment

“Some 70 per­cent of the 4,176 people who responded to an Out­side survey for this story reported that they’d been harassed in the outdoors or while working in the outdoor industry. I eventually talked to or exchanged e-mail with 80 such people, representing nearly every sport that the magazine has covered in its 40-year history. I spoke with women who were sexually harassed or assaulted at ski races, at mountain-bike events, while trekking overseas, at gear companies, even while reporting about the outdoors.”  outside

How a box of magic crystals brought down Australias favourite race car driver

“Being unfamiliar with Peter Brock is pretty much unthinkable to Australian auto racing fans, but for much of the rest of the world, that’s the sorry state we live in. This is a shame, not just because Peter Brock was a truly gifted driver and ran a great factory-approved tuning company, but because the story of his downfall is truly fascinating, and involves a box of crystals and epoxy that tap into mythical orgone energy. Seriously.” jalopnik

The skincare con

“Most skincare is really just a waste of money. The invisible investments are of a kind with today’s boring rich. Rich people used to build castles and museums; today they buy clunky smartwatches and personalized vitamins. Those with disposable income would, before we all lost our minds, buy books or art or beautiful shoes or literally anything that gives more pleasure than another useless exfoliant.” the outline

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Q. 

Should judges and magistrates be publicly elected?

“Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says the public should help select judges and magistrates in state courts, leaving the door open to the direct election of judges ... ‘Frankly, the state governments should be putting out publicly the names of people that they’re believing they should appoint to the magistrates court and let there be public reflection on that’, he told 2GB radio’s Ray Hadley.”   fairfax

A. 

Works great in the States!

“Most voters do not know their judges, so party affiliation and having a good name count for much more on the ballot paper than the quality of the candidate’s decisions ... Since people often vote for the same party the whole way down the ballot, in races where judges must be party members they can find themselves slung out for reasons that bear no relation to judging.”  the economist (from 2014)

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and finally:

The best facial expressions at the State of the Union

“Perhaps the best way to know how our elected officials really feel about the future of this country is to stare into their eyes as they’re forced to sit through President Trump’s first State of the Union. Is there a cunning resolve behind their golf clap? (Mike Pence.) A deep faith in who is actually in charge? (Paul Ryan.) Or seething anger? (Nancy Pelosi.)” the cut

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Competition:

Win tickets to the opening of The Exhibition Project

The Saturday Paper invites NSW readers to enter the draw to win one of 20 invitations to the opening of The Exhibition Project at City Recital Hall in Sydney on Thursday, February 8. The Exhibition Project, developed by The Other Art Fair presented by Saatchi Art, showcases the talents of young and emerging artists. Simply email your name and phone number to [email protected]. Entries will close at 11.59pm AEDT on Sunday, February 4 and winners will be notified by Monday, February 5.

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