Nothing’s really happening today, go back to bed.
Just kidding. Australia may have its fifth prime minister in 10 years by lunchtime, as the Liberal Party prepares to meet for the second leadership spill of the week. Speaking at Parliament House yesterday, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull scheduled a Liberal party room meeting for midday Friday, provided a majority of Liberal MPs signed a letter calling for one. While it remains unclear if 43 Liberals have put their name to such a letter, Turnbull pledged to stand down if the meeting was called and a spill motion was carried. In chaotic scenes yesterday, Turnbull supporters Mathias Cormann, Michaelia Cash and Mitch Fifield resigned from the ministry, with Cormann saying he “can't ignore [the] reality” that Turnbull’s leadership was untenable. Besides former home affairs minister Peter Dutton, treasurer Scott Morrison and foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop were expected to contest the Liberal leadership if a spill motion is successful.
Turnbull also highlighted growing questions around Dutton’s eligibility to sit in parliament. Solicitor-general Stephen Donaghue QC will deliver advice this morning on whether Dutton’s financial interests in childcare centres that receive public subsidies disqualifies him from public office. “I cannot underline too much how important it is that anyone who seeks to be prime minister of Australia is eligible to be a member of parliament”, Turnbull said. A Labor motion referring Dutton to the High Court was narrowly defeated 69-68 in a House of Representatives vote on Thursday, while the Senate voted to establish an inquiry into Dutton’s use of ministerial powers to prevent the deportation of two foreign au pairs. Late on Thursday night, Dutton released legal advice from former solicitor-general David Bennett QC, which he claimed “puts to rest the spurious and unsubstantiated allegations raised against by [sic] eligibility”.
Nine Network chief political correspondent Chris Uhlmann has hit out at News Corp and other news outlets, saying they were “players in the game” to depose Turnbull and install a conservative replacement. Speaking on The Today Show on Thursday, Uhlmann said the News Corp newspapers, 2GB Radio in Sydney and Sky News were “among the biggest bullies in the land”, and that they “get their knickers in a huge twist” when they were criticised. Saying he “couldn’t give a rat’s arse” if they came after him for his comments, Uhlmann said Sky News was “turning Liberal National Party voters into One Nation voters” and that “if you’re going to dish it out, you have to be prepared to take it”.
And in India, the Kerala state government has responded angrily to Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s refusal to accept foreign aid to help in the recovery from deadly floods. At least 231 people died after heavy monsoon rains caused widespread flooding in the southwestern state, prompting the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and the Maldives to offer monetary aid. While Modi directly thanked UAE prime minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, he has refused all aid offers. Kerala finance minister Thomas Isaac called Modi’s stance “a dog in the manger policy”, urging the central government to “compensate Kerala” for the foregone funds. Donate to the Kerala chief minister’s fund for flood relief here.