Monday, March 12, 2018

Queensland town protests refugee raid

The small Queensland town of Biloela has rallied to the defence of a Sri Lankan asylum seeker family that is set to be deported after being seized in an Australian Border Force raid. The Tamil couple, who married in 2014 after fleeing Sri Lanka, and their two Australian-born children, were taken in an early morning ABF raid last Monday. The family was flown to immigration detention in Melbourne, 1500 kilometres away, and allegedly coerced into signing documents assenting to their “voluntary removal”. Biloela locals have started a petition urging the government to “return this family to Biloela, their home, where they are wanted and welcome”. The United Nations has criticised Australia’s eagerness to deport Tamil refugees to Sri Lanka in the past, noting in October that at least one such case faced “a serious risk of return to danger or persecution”.

China’s National People’s Congress has abolished presidential term limits, paving the way for President Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely. The constitutional change, approved by all but five of 2964 delegates, reverses the two-term presidential limit introduced by Deng Xiaoping in 1982 and allows Xi to stay in power after his second term ends in 2023. The vote prompted a social media crackdown, with the government censoring words and phrases that could be construed to criticise Xi or the reform, and continues Xi’s efforts to consolidate power and re-emphasise communist ideology.

Former deputy prime minister Wayne Swan will run for the Labor Party presidency against incumbent Mark Butler. Swan, who announced in February that he would not recontest the seat of Lilley at the next election, entered the race on Saturday. Swan, a member of the party’s right faction, will urge Labor to adopt a more aggressive focus on economic inequality and redistribution, saying “I want to make a contribution to winning the battle of ideas with the radical right that have taken over the Liberal Party”. Butler, from the party’s left, will continue his push for Labor to democratise, saying “too many important decisions are taken by a few factional power brokers, rather than by our many members”. The pair will face off at Labor’s national conference in July.

Another cache of classified government documents was accidentally leaked into unauthorised hands after being left in ex-government filing cabinets, a Canberra resident has revealed. Speaking to The Sunday Canberra Times, the anonymous man said he bought two filing cabinets in a Fyshwick ex-government furniture store in 2013 containing documents belonging to the then-department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. The files contained “all the personal details [of employees] like home addresses and phone numbers, as well as previous positions held, CVs and security clearances”, and were returned to the department several days after the breach was discovered. “Unfortunately they didn't buy the cabinet”, the man said.

The union movement has launched its largest advertising blitz since WorkChoices in 2007. The Australian Council of Trade Unions has rolled out an eight-week television ad campaign with the tagline “it’s time to change the rules”, arguing that “big business has too much power” and contrasting penalty rate cuts with CEO bonuses. ACTU president Sally McManus will further outline the campaign in an address to the National Press Club on March 21, flagging the organisation’s intent to push for a more militant unionism ahead of the next federal election.

And the 2018 NRL season has kicked off with the Penrith Panthers securing a 24-14 come-from-behind victory over the Parramatta Eels. The win sets up a premiership-winning year for the Panthers, who have lulled their competitors into a false sense of security by not winning a premiership for 15 years. The AFL resumes in 10 days’ time, but you will not read about it here.

Open Quotemarks

We chose the best person for the job on merit. The LNP doesn’t need quotas to choose our representatives.

Close Quotemarks

The news you need. Delivered free to your inbox. 7am weekdays.


The Olympian who believes hes always on TV

“In the days that followed, part of him wanted to talk to his teammates about what had happened, but part of him dared not. Because, if he was honest, he still wasn’t entirely sure that the crash and Simpson’s death had really happened. It seemed too horrifying to be real. And for a few moments, there had been that flash. The Director. Cameras. Actors. Scripts. Kevin wondered: Had it all just been part of The Show?” longreads

Hilary Mantel: We still work to a man’s timetable and a man’s agenda

“When Hilary Mantel was in law school in England, she started suffering terrible internal pains. No one took a young woman’s agony particularly seriously, especially if it was situated uterus-adjacent. She went to visit a psychiatrist, who diagnosed the source of her anguish: It was stress, he said, caused by overambition. He wondered if law school was too taxing. Mightn’t a dress shop be a better outlet for her talents?”literary hub

The first four-minute mile, in one pain-wracked photo

“Sir Roger Bannister died last weekend at the age of 88 and, as to be expected, the glowing obituaries focused on his epochal mile of May 6, 1954, when he shattered the four-minute barrier on Oxford University’s Iffley Road track. In this day and age, when Usain Bolt goes 9.58 for the 100 meters and elite marathoners appear poised to slip under the two-hour barrier, Bannister’s achievement seems quaint, a relic from when the Olympics were an all-amateur affair and PEDs were not yet part of the vernacular.” deadpsin



What’s Donald Trump getting in exchange for exempting Australia from steel tariffs?

“A diplomatic onslaught to save Australian steel from Donald Trump’s new tariffs appears to have paid dividends, with the US President signalling he will spare ‘the great nation of Australia’ from the import levy. Malcolm Turnbull spoke with Trump on Saturday in what he described as a ‘very good and productive discussion’ in which he reminded the President of the long-standing military ties between the US and Australia.”  fairfax


Wait and see what this ‘security agreement’ entails.

“ ‘Spoke to PM @TurnbullMalcolm of Australia. He is committed to having a very fair and reciprocal military and trade relationship. Working very quickly on a security agreement so we don’t have to impose steel or aluminum tariffs on our ally, the great nation of Australia!’ ”  donald trump (via twitter)


and finally:

If you truly care about speech, you will invite me to your office to personally call you a dipshit

“If you think offensive speech shouldn’t be aired in certain contexts and venues, you don’t believe in free speech. Which is why it is incumbent on Weiss, and her bosses, to ask me to come to the offices of The New York Times and give a talk to the editors and columnists of the opinion page about how stupid they are ... For them not to allow this to happen would be an alarming sign of the decline of liberalism in the West.” splinter