New concerns surround the government’s increased use of legislative powers to bypass the parliament and create laws that cannot be amended or overturned. The federal government has embedded special powers in new Covid-19 laws to make unilateral changes to non-pandemic-related legislation, using what are known as ‘Henry VIII clauses’ – named for the unchecked power they involve.
Refugees, asylum seekers and advocates have marked five years since the reintroduction of Australia’s mandatory offshore detention policy. Iranian journalist and refugee Behrouz Boochani called the milestone “a dark day,” accusing the federal government “of lying, torturing and propaganda”. Human Rights Watch Australia director Elaine Pearson said “Australia has gone from being a country that once welcomed immigrants to a world leader in treating refugees with brazen cruelty” in the five years since then-prime minister Kevin Rudd announced that “any asylum seeker who arrives in Australia by boat will have no chance of being settled in Australia as refugees”. Vigils around the country have been planned to remember the 12 men who have died in offshore detention since 2013.
Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has called on Pope Francis to dismiss Adelaide archbishop Philip Wilson. Speaking yesterday, Turnbull said “the time has come for the Pope to sack” Wilson, saying “there are many leaders that have called on him to resign, it is clear that he should resign”. Wilson, 67, was found guilty in May of concealing child sexual abuse by a priest in the 1970s, becoming the most senior Catholic in the world to be convicted in the church’s child sexual abuse scandal. Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Mark Coleridge said that while “a number of Australian bishops have also offered their advice privately … only the Pope can compel a bishop to resign”. Wilson has said he intends to appeal his conviction.
Labor MP Emma Husar has been accused of workplace bullying and harassment by multiple former staff members. BuzzFeed Australia reports that Husar, 38, is the subject of an investigation commissioned by NSW Labor into allegations of verbal abuse, intimidation and misuse of parliamentary staff. A former Husar staffer who spoke anonymously told BuzzFeed Labor was likely to bury the inquiry’s findings until after the next federal election to avoid political embarrassment, saying “I am disgusted in the party for covering this up … From the top down everyone knows about it and have let it continue.” Husar denies the allegations.
And a member of French president Emmanuel Macron’s security detail has been caught on camera attacking protesters while disguised as a police officer. Video released by Le Monde shows Alexandre Benalla, a senior security official at the Élysée Palace, beating and stomping on a male protester and dragging a woman along the ground at a May Day trade union protest in Paris. Benalla was suspended for just two weeks following the incident, before returning to work at Macron’s side at high-profile state functions, the French soccer team’s World Cup victory parade and the funeral of women’s rights activist Simone Veil. Paris prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into Benalla’s actions.