Monday, September 03, 2018

Coalition roads and rail re-election plan leaked

Plans for a national $7.6 billion roads and rail package, which was to be released in the lead up to the federal election, have been leaked to the Herald Sun ($). The plans, signed off by deposed prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, were to be strategically drip fed by the Liberals to help save marginal seats across the country. About $1.6 billion is to be announced for the Queensland seats held by George Christensen, Luke Howarth, Michelle Landry and Peter Dutton; $3 billion will go to a north-south rail link in Western Sydney; and $1.5 billion to a high-speed rail network linking Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Newcastle.

The coalition is again under scrutiny over its controversial $443 million grant to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. In an exclusive for The Australian ($), the LNP went against the recommendation of the Finance Department, which suggested reducing the grant to a $200 million contribution over six years. The move was intended to make the government “look like heroes” without negatively affecting the budget. Delivering the half a billion-dollar grant in this way would mean that future projected surplus would not be impacted.  

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has denied Katter’s Australian Party an additional five staff, calling out the party for not denouncing Senator Fraser Anning’s “final solution” speech to parliament. Ms Palaszczuk, whose own grandparents fled the Nazis in the World War II, told the Labor state conference on Sunday that she and her party would tear up the deal with Katter’s Australia Party “because it (KAP) tolerates the intolerable and defends the indefensible”. Deputy premier Jackie Trad echoed her comments, saying “KAP members in the Queensland parliament had an opportunity to denounce Fraser Anning’s comments, they didn’t, in fact, they compounded them".

The Queensland premier also announced her intentions to ask a parliamentary committee to conduct an inquiry into voluntary euthanasia, as well as end-of-life care, aged care and palliative care, following the lead of other states. “I have watched my own family suffer, this is an issue we must discuss, this is an issue we must confront,” she said. This inquiry would take place after the committee has completed the abortion reforms for the state ($), which introduced safe zones and for terminations to be allowed to be conducted up to 22 weeks without medical approval.

A 64-year-old man has been arrested in Sydney for the alleged possession of firearms including ammunition, swords, knives and crossbows, as well protective gear and “terrorism response” books. The Australian Border Force found the man after being tipped off about firearm parts being imported into Australia. "We can only interpret the evidence from the scene, and [he was] obviously a deeply disturbed individual who was highly trained with military grade weaponry and reading material … coupled with ballistic protection," NSW Police's acting commander of the state crime command, Stuart Smith, said. "The threat was real, it was significant, and it was imminent."

The rise in mortgage rates by Westpac and Suncorp last week is making some experts nervous. While Capital Economica’s Paul Dales says Australia is a still a long way from recession, the likelihood of one is increasing. He told the ABC that the combination of a fall in house prices, tightening in credit conditions and a rise in mortgage rates could mean that Australia will face a recession or financial crisis with five years.


“Donald Trump’s name was never mentioned. It didn’t have to be. The funeral service for John Sidney McCain III, at the Washington National Cathedral, on this swampy Saturday morning, was all about a rebuke to the pointedly uninvited current President of the United States, which was exactly how McCain had planned it."


“It’s easier than ever to buy things online. It’s so easy that Ryan Cassata sometimes does it in his sleep. Cassata, a 24-year-old singer-songwriter and actor from Los Angeles, recently got a notification from Amazon that a package had been shipped to his apartment, but he didn’t remember buying anything. When he logged onto his account and saw that a fanny pack and some socks were on the way, he remembered: A few nights back, he had woken up in the middle of the night to browse—and apparently shop on—Amazon.”


“Angie and several dozen colleagues helped identify those who passed American and Allied secrets to the Soviet Union during and after World War II. Their work unmasked such infamous spies as the British intelligence officer Kim Philby, the British diplomat Donald Maclean, the German-born scientist Klaus Fuchs and many others. They provided vital intelligence about Soviet tradecraft. Their work was so highly classified that President Harry Truman likely did not know about it.”


“' I have helped sick children, people with disabilities, aged parents and many other cases – all where the Department has advised me not to act. I have applied common sense and have acted lawfully and on the merits of each case ... My opponents hate me because of my stance on border protection and this latest attack won’t deter me one inch from continuing to do my job.' ”


"And then there’s Dutton’s own ­department. The bureaucrats are the ones he should really worry about — or perhaps former bureaucrats in this case. It’s unclear who’s leaking, but someone with access to internal ­departmental emails from 2015 is out to cause Dutton enormous damage, by simply exposing his actions as minister."


“Where did this Grandma Couch—which is somehow both conservative and flamboyant at the same—come from? How did so many people have it, when it is largely ignored by taste-makers obsessed with mid-century design? What did life in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s really look like for the squares?”

Anna Horan
is a Melbourne-based editor and writer.