Monday, September 10, 2018

Dutton besieged on two fronts

House of Representatives crossbenchers are waiting for home affairs minister Peter Dutton to explain his previous statements to Parliament over the au pairs controversy before deciding whether to support a no-confidence motion against him. Parliament resumes today, with the no-confidence motion brought by the Greens likely to be voted on this week. Independent Cathy McGowan and the Centre Alliance’s Rebekha Sharkie remain undecided on the motion, with McGowan telling Guardian Australia “it’s important Dutton responds to the allegations that he misled the house in the parliament”. Meanwhile, Labor will attempt to refer Dutton to the High Court over questions regarding his eligibility to hold public office. The government has just 74 votes on the lower house floor due to the retirement of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Prime minister Scott Morrison has flagged an overhaul of the migration system that would require recent arrivals to move to rural and regional areas instead of major cities. Speaking to Fairfax, Morrison said Australia needed to have “a fair dinkum conversation” about its immigration intake, saying “smaller capitals like Adelaide and Hobart and so on, and even Perth – they want more people. But in Sydney and Melbourne they don’t.” The government has not yet detailed how it would implement the plan, which may run into legal and constitutional hurdles.

Crossbench senators have accused attorney-general Christian Porter of failing to properly answer questions relating to the prosecution of Witness K and lawyer Bernard Collaery. In July, Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick asked the attorney-general’s department a series of questions about the federal government’s decision to prosecute the pair for whistleblowing on Australia’s spying on the government of Timor-Leste. On Friday, Patrick said that Porter’s responses, provided last week, failed to properly set out the reasons behind the prosecution. “The attorney has not properly advanced public interest immunity,” Patrick said, adding that Porter “cannot hide behind national security or other immunities just because he might be embarrassed or uncomfortable with answering the questions”.

And in New South Wales, premier Gladys Berejiklian has sought to play down the results of a byelection that saw the Liberal Party lose a seat it had held in state parliament for more than six decades. Voters in the state seat of Wagga Wagga went to the polls on Saturday after former member Daryl Maguire resigned from parliament due to a corruption scandal. Counting on Saturday night revealed a swing of nearly 30 per cent away from the Liberals, with ABC election analyst Antony Green calling the seat for independent candidate Joe McGirr. Speaking on Sunday, Berejiklian said she regretted “that the people of the Wagga region came to the conclusion that they could no longer trust the way in which they were being represented”.


“In a pop-cultural sense, at least, the idea of anarchy has been characterised by either a middle-fingers-up, no-parents-no-rules punk attitude, or a panicky, more conservative outlook used by state sources to represent violent chaos and disorder. Today, we can see an extremely serious, radical leftist political philosophy on T-shirts at Hot Topic.”


“Since South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994, when Nelson Mandela was elected president, there have been more than 500 political assassinations in KwaZulu-Natal. Crime researcher David Bruce estimated in 2013 that the province had accounted for more than 90 percent of political killings countrywide since the dawn of democracy. The numbers could well be much higher.”


“Fuel thieves, known in Spanish as huachicoleros, have always been around in Mexico, a country with vast oil wealth and a rich tradition of social banditry ... Mexico’s drug-trafficking cartels have moved to monopolise all forms of crime, including fuel theft, muscling out smaller operators with paramilitary tactics honed in the drug war.”


“Incredible new statistics reveal a major increase in the number of strip searches on NSW residents over the past two years – and critics say the tactic is ‘humiliating’ and a waste of everyone’s time and money. The figures, compiled by NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge, show the number of invasive searches on people in the state almost doubled from 2016 to 2017.”


“Drug busts have been mistakenly double-counted for the past seven years, and some experts warn the exaggerated data might have been used to justify crackdowns on drug users and support bad policy ... Cocaine and ecstasy possession reports to police were inflated more than 30 per cent in recent years, while last year in total, 13,350 recorded drug use/possess events never happened.”


“In the year-and-a-half since the Black Pharaoh replaced the Oval Office with a literal blood fountain throne, I’ve watched as the hits keep on coming. The executive cabinet is wracked with scandal, ordinary citizens who signed the cultist oath are making good on their grave pacts, and, of course, the entirety of the country’s water supply is now teeming with pulsating eggs from some kind of inter-dimensional parasite.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.