Thursday, September 13, 2018

Outgoing Liberals take parting shots

Liberal MPs who chose to resign after August’s leadership spill have sought to leave their mark on the party on the way out. In a late-night speech to a near-empty House of Representatives on Wednesday, outgoing member for the Victorian seat of Chisholm, Julia Banks, condemned “a culture of appalling behaviour” that prompted her to resign. Banks called for formal gender quotas to address the Liberal Party’s dearth of female representation in federal parliament, saying “it's really simple if you only have a man running and you can't find a woman. Find one.” Liberal senators Linda Reynolds and Lucy Gichuhi resolved not to make further public comment about allegations of bullying and intimidation during the spill, with Reynolds saying she would not be “cheapening it through theatrical politics here in Question Time”.

Meanwhile, Fairfax reports that former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has been urging colleagues to refer Dutton to the High Court over questions regarding his constitutional eligibility to sit in parliament. Turnbull admitted to lobbying prime minister Scott Morrison and others, writing on Twitter that Dutton “should be referred to the High Court, as [former deputy prime minister] Barnaby [Joyce] was, to clarify the matter”.

The war of words between home affairs minister Peter Dutton and former Australian Border Force commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg has intensified, with prime minister Scott Morrison standing by Dutton’s description of Quaedvlieg having “groomed a girl 30 years younger than himself”. Writing on Twitter, Quaedvlieg said he “personally expressed my dissatisfaction to the PM” over Dutton’s comments, but that Morrison ignored him. “Talk to anyone in the community and put together the words ‘groomed’ and ‘girl’ and see where their mind goes, let alone an ex-police officer,” Quaedvlieg said. Quaedvlieg also said he complained about Dutton’s remarks to House of Representatives speaker Tony Smith. Speaking on Wednesday, Morrison denied that Dutton had implied Quaedvlieg was a child molester, saying “he has not done that at all”.

Sydney shock jock Alan Jones and radio stations 2GB and 4BC have been ordered to pay $3.75 million for defaming a family of Queensland graziers. In a series of broadcasts after the 2011 Grantham floods, Jones accused the Wagner family of corruption, illegal construction and trying to cover up the deaths of 12 people after the wall of a quarry owned by the family collapsed. In a 253-page judgement, Supreme Court of Queensland Justice Peter Flanagan cited Jones’ “intrinsically vicious and spiteful wording” as evidence he “was motivated by a desire to injure the plaintiffs’ reputation”. The decision marks Jones’ 19th defamation loss.

And a byelection to elect a replacement for former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has been scheduled for October 20. Traditionally a safe Liberal seat, the affluent eastern Sydney electorate is already the target of a concerted campaign by Labor candidate Tim Murray. The Liberal preselection for the seat has been marked by high-profile candidates bowing out of contention, with City of Sydney councillor Christine Forster and marriage equality campaigner Andrew Bragg both withdrawing from the race. Independent City of Sydney councillor and former Australian Medical Association president, Dr Kerryn Phelps, could threaten the Liberals’ hold on the seat if she contests.



“There is a trend within conservative media to be aggressively racist and then pretend they don’t understand why people are calling them racist. It’s a vicious cycle of faux self-victimisation – being offensive, feigning ignorance while completely ignoring the nature of the criticism given, then doubling down by whinging about being the victims, and complaining about the ‘Left’ and ‘PC gone mad’.”


“Drivers described a variety of alleged abuses, including lack of overtime pay, missing wages, intimidation, and favouritism. Drivers also described a physically demanding work environment in which, under strict time constraints, they felt pressured to drive at dangerously high speeds, blow stop signs, and skip meal and bathroom breaks.”


“In its march to slash water consumption drastically, this metropolis of 4 million people also became a harbinger of how water will constrain global cities in the future, and how climate change will bring turmoil and a new slate of challenges to places where class and racial divides are deep.”


“Trust Australia to take a debate around racialized gender dynamics and ratchet up the racism tenfold. The latest cartoon is very Mark Knight – and sadly representative of Australian cartooning and Australian racism in general.”


“If right-wing Australian politicians were among the first to mainstream a belligerent white nationalism, the periodicals and television channels of Rupert Murdoch have worked overtime to preserve the alliance between capital and mob in the Anglosphere.”


“Fighting back tears at a press conference this morning, members of the band somberly confirmed that in precisely 156 weeks, Bono will be walking along a beach in Maui when suddenly an overripe coconut will fall from a tree and absolutely cream the legendary frontman on the top of the cranium, resulting in a gaping head wound and severe brain injuries.”