Jobs and innovation minister Michaelia Cash has been forced to withdraw a threat to expose details of “rumours” involving young women working in opposition leader Bill Shorten’s office. During an exchange with Labor Senator Doug Cameron in Senate estimates yesterday, Cash said she was “happy to sit here and name every young woman in Mr Shorten's office over which rumours in this place abound”. Cash said gossip about the young staffers had been “circulating in this building now for many, many years”, and said she was ready to “start naming them”. Cash’s comments prompted an angry response from Labor Senate leader Penny Wong, who described Cash’s “outrageous slurs” as “disgraceful and sexist”. Cash withdrew her remarks after Wong threatened to take the issue to the Senate.
Deputy prime minister Michael McCormack has insisted ($) his views on homosexuality have evolved after The Daily Telegraph published details of multiple columns condemning LGBT people McCormack wrote in the 1990s. “If homophobic can be taken as an intense fear of homosexuals then that’s fine, call me homophobic”, McCormack wrote as editor of Wagga Wagga newspaper The Daily Advertiser. “If something isn’t done and done quickly to prevent homosexuals getting rights they don’t deserve then God help us.” In another editorial, McCormack criticised the Keating Labor government for “pandering to a ‘limp-wristed’ minority”. McCormack told The Daily Telegraph the columns “in no way reflect how my views and community views have changed since publication”.
A journalist has claimed a television newsroom was tipped off about Australian Federal Police raids on Australian Workers’ Union offices in October 2017 by then justice minister Michael Keenan’s office. Speaking anonymously to BuzzFeed Australia, the journalist alleged a staffer working for Keenan told them the times and locations of the raids an hour before they took place. An adviser to jobs and innovation minister Michaelia Cash resigned in October after admitting to tipping off media outlets, while Cash has refused to answer questions about the matter for several months. In a statement, a spokeperson for Keenan said “neither the minister or anyone in his office informed media outlets prior to the execution of search warrants”.
University activists have called for the repeal of laws allowing residential colleges to self-govern. As orientation weeks at Australian universities approach, sexual assault awareness organisation End Rape On Campus has released The Red Zone, a 211-page report detailing sexual harassment and assault at universities. “Orientation weeks (‘O Weeks’) have been highlighted as a time of pronounced vulnerability, particularly for new students”, the report reads. “One in eight attempted or completed sexual assaults at the University of Sydney colleges will occur during a single week of the year – O Week.” In 2016, the University of Sydney’s St Paul’s College used its self-governing powers to boycott an external investigation into sexual assault at residential colleges.
And businessman and environmental campaigner Geoff Cousins has claimed opposition leader Bill Shorten repeatedly backed away from a promise to declare Labor’s opposition to the Carmichael coal mine in central Queensland. Cousins claims Shorten promised to change Labor’s position on the Adani mine after travelling to the Great Barrier Reef and the mine site in December, telling Cousins “I’m going to lead on that, I’m going to go forward, there comes a time when you need to lead and this is it”. Cousins also said Shorten pushed back the proposed timeframe for the shift, eventually not returning Cousins’ calls.