Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Alan Jones’ hand in leadership spill

Sydney shock jock Alan Jones has admitted urging two Coalition MPs to support a challenge to then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull during the Liberal leadership crisis last week. Speaking to the ABC’s Four Corners on Monday, Jones said he contacted the member for Bennelong, John Alexander, and an unnamed second MP, telling them “this is critical stuff, you've really got to think about this, the party's got to change direction”. In his farewell press conference on Friday, Turnbull blamed “powerful voices in the media” for undermining his position, while Nine News political editor Chris Uhlmann said last week that media outlets and personalities provoking leadership instability were “among the biggest bullies in the land”. Several advertisers have pulled promotions from Sydney radio station 2GB after Jones used a racial slur on-air during the leadership crisis.

Refugee children on Nauru are Googling how to die, according to whistleblowers on the island. Speaking to the ABC’s 7.30, former detention centre medical staffer Dr Vernon Reynolds said he was “reasonably surprised” no children had died on Nauru. Reynolds, who worked for healthcare contractor International Health and Medical Services for more than two years, claimed the Australian Border Force prevented him from returning to Nauru in April as he was “potentially putting the organisation, or potentially the government, at risk by stating we were neglecting the care of these children” in his medical reports. Social worker Fiona Owens, who worked on Nauru between May and July 2018, said “the extreme possibilities are death of children, death of adults, continual death of adults and children”.

The Western Australian government will seek UNESCO world heritage status for Aboriginal rock art across the Pilbara’s Burrup Peninsula. Under the terms of an agreement signed by WA premier Mark McGowan and local language groups on Monday, the state government would pursue world heritage status for the peninsula and consult with local Aboriginal communities on how to preserve culturally significant sites and promote tourism. A Senate inquiry report released in March found that traditional owners were not consulted about an ammonium nitrate processing facility that may impact on rock art sites, and were left out of previous discussions about managing the area. Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Peter Jeffries said the rock art was “a record of our culture as it was given to us by our ancestors which allows us to continue to participate in our culture and defines who we are as Aboriginal people”.

And former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced his retirement from politics later this week. Turnbull’s resignation will trigger a byelection in his eastern Sydney seat of Wentworth, potentially costing the federal government its one-seat majority. Liberal City of Sydney councillor Christine Forster announced her candidacy for Wentworth on Monday, with independent fellow Sydney councillor Kerryn Phelps and the state member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, also reportedly considering runs. Meanwhile, Turnbull’s son has hit out at Liberal conservatives, declaring the government’s inaction on energy and climate policy has made it “impossible to vote for the LNP in good conscience”. In an interview with Fairfax, investment banker Alex Turnbull defended his father’s record and blamed conservative rivals for his downfall, saying “my father fought the stupid and the stupid won”. Turnbull turned down a request last week to appear on Sky News’ Outsiders, saying “surely angry white men can go off their meds without me”.


“1,200 blockades were in force as of May 25. Commerce had ground to a halt, with shipping containers bound for the US and other markets remaining empty. Shelves were bare. The truckers were refusing to leave until their demand for a permanently lower diesel price was met, official agreement be damned.”


“When Gold’s Gym first opened, lifting weights was frowned upon, or even considered taboo, by most every doctor, trainer, and coach. The few men (and they were pretty much all men back then) who called themselves bodybuilders were ridiculed as narcissistic freaks and taunted with not-so-subtle innuendoes of homosexuality.”


“A year and a half ago, your sister, who managed a ranch in Colorado, was thirty-six and watching the Outdoor Life Network after dinner when she felt a lump. She made an appointment. Soon you are outside your local historical society in Virginia as she tells you over the phone that it’s breast cancer.”


“Melissa Price is one of the big winners of the reshuffle, jumping from the outer ministry straight to the Cabinet role of environment minister. She held the assistant portfolio under Turnbull and was one of his staunch supporters.”


“Whether you believe so-called climate change is due to human behavior, planetary motion, ocean currents or solar variability et cetera, to me, is not the point.”


“The bathroom is a mysterious place. What goes on inside varies for everyone, or maybe it doesn’t; we simply do not know ... But for now, with the door closed, we can only suspect and ask questions. Here’s one: Do men enter the bathtub on their hands and knees in order to ensure their balls hit the water last?”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.