The Australian government has served notice that Chelsea Manning will be denied entry to the country this week, ahead of speaking engagements in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. The former US soldier, who turned whistleblower for WikiLeaks in 2010, is to be refused entry under s501 of the Migration Act, which allows the immigration minister to deny visas to anyone who they do not believe passes "the character test". Manning was convicted for leaking military intelligence, and spent seven years behind bars, before her sentence was commuted by former US President Barrack Obama in 2017. Because she was not pardoned, the conviction still stands and she must request special dispensation to be granted a visa to Australia and New Zealand, where she is also facing visa issues. According to the ABC, Suzi Jamil, director of Think Inc, the company in charge of organising the speaking tour, has called on supporters to lobby new immigration minister David Coleman to reverse the decision. "We are looking for support from relevant national bodies or individuals, especially politicians who can support Chelsea's entry into Australia,’’ Jamil said. "We are seeking letters of support to send to the Minister for Immigration in order for him to reconsider his decision."
Indigenous leaders have expressed anger and dismay at the news Tony Abbott will become special envoy on Indigenous affairs. Dr Jackie Huggins, co-chair of the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples, asked if the community had been “punished enough” by government on Indigenous affairs. “How long can we put up with a paternalistic government who does not choose to engage or to talk to us?" Dr Huggins said Abbott had “a track record” of denying social justice and self-determination to Aboriginal. “There's almost that notion of chief protector has come back to re-visit us,’’ she said. As Prime Minister, Abbott appointed himself “prime minister for Indigenous Affairs” and was criticised for his “paternalistic” policy, slashing $500 million in funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services. Roy Ah See, chairman of the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council, has also questioned why the position was needed in an interview with ABC News, describing the role as essentially “a diplomat”. In a statement, he elaborated: "We asked for a voice to the Parliament so the Parliament could hear directly from us, and instead we got a non-Aboriginal envoy to interpret our needs and the solutions we bring." It is not fully understood how the creation of the position would work in tandem with the portfolios of Indigenous Affairs and Indigenous Health.
Julia Banks, the federal member for Chisolm, announced yesterday she would not contest the next election, saying the Liberal leadership spill last week was “the last straw”. In her statement she said she believed Malcolm Turnbull should have remained prime minister, and Julie Bishop as deputy party leader, but also cited an intolerance for the “bullying and intimidation” in parliament, particularly for women, in her reasons for stepping aside. This comes in the wake of reports that conservatives pressured or intimidated several female MPs and senators to obtain the signatures needed to topple Turnbull. Kelly O’Dwyer, Liberal MP for Higgins, released a statement and tweeted her support for Banks, saying that bullying anywhere was “totally unacceptable”. But former Victorian premier Ted Baillieu took it a step further, explicitly stating that his party has a “problem” with women. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has vowed to stamp out bullying within the party. While Banks is not contesting a parliamentary seat again, she said that she was “not done” with a role in public life. “I am not giving up the fight for gender equality. The scourge of cultural and gender bias, bullying and intimidation continues against women in politics, the media, and across businesses. In anticipating my critics saying I’m ‘playing the gender card’ – I say this. Women have suffered in silence for too long and in this last twelve months the world has seen many courageous women speak out.”