Australian Army soldiers flew the German Nazi flag from a vehicle while on tour in Afghanistan. The ABC reports that Defence personnel hoisted the swastika above an armoured truck while on patrol in August 2007, and that soldiers circulated photos of the flag while on tour. A Defence spokesperson said “the flag was briefly raised above an Australian Army vehicle in Afghanistan in 2007”, and that “the commander took immediate action to have the offensive flag taken down” and disciplined the soldiers who flew it. The culture of Australia’s special forces has come under scrutiny following revelations last week that soldiers may have committed war crimes while in Afghanistan.
The federal government has agreed to adopt 104 recommendations handed down by the royal commission into institutional responses to child sex abuse and is considering a further 18. Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull will deliver a national apology to child abuse survivors in parliament on October 22, and has pledged to consult survivors on its wording. A national Office for Child Safety will be established to study the prevalence of child sexual abuse, and a national redress scheme covering all jurisdictions will be set up to issue financial aid to survivors. The government did not commit to ordering clergy to report confessions of child abuse to police, but attorney-general Christian Porter said on Monday that “the need to protect people from sexual abuse, but particularly children, is something that should take some precedence”.
Senator Brian Burston will announce his resignation from Pauline Hanson’s One Nation today, leaving the party with just two federal senators and deepening its ongoing crisis. Speaking to Fairfax, Burston said “it should be called ‘Gone Nation’ instead of ‘One Nation’ ”, adding that “there is no democracy in the party. Every single decision made is made by Pauline Hanson”. Burston will use his resignation speech to urge One Nation senator Peter Georgiou to vote for the federal government’s proposed corporate tax cuts, which One Nation currently opposes. In a Sky News interview last month, Hanson said Burston “stabbed me in the back”, saying “the people of this country don't even know who the hell Brian Burston is”.
The commonwealth ombudsman will launch another investigation into the Centrelink robo-debt scandal following a request from Denison independent MP Andrew Wilkie. In a statement, Wilkie said the automated debt recovery system was issuing “nonsensical and often incorrect debts sometimes in the tens of thousands of dollars”. A report last year found that about 7500 debts were waived after being reviewed, while another 12,500 were reduced. The ombudsman will investigate claims the ATO incorrectly calculated debt amounts based on clients recording slightly different employer names, as well as failing to distinguish between gross and net income on people’s supporting information.
And Ireland will hold a referendum to remove the offence of blasphemy from its constitution. The vote, which will likely take place at the same time as the presidential election in October, will ask if voters wish to repeal Article 40.6.1.i. of Ireland’s constitution, which outlaws “the publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter”. While there has been no successful prosecution under the law since 1855, Irish justice and equality minister Charlie Flanagan said repeal was “an important step in terms of Ireland’s international reputation”.