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.