Thursday, October 18, 2018

Queensland legalises abortion

Queensland has decriminalised abortion, with parliament voting to remove references to the procedure from the state’s 1899 criminal code. The bill, which makes abortion available on request at up to 22 weeks’ gestation and establishes 150-metre “safe access zones” around termination clinics, passed 50 votes to 41. It had the support of all but one government MP, three opposition MPs, the Greens’ Michael Berkman and independent Sandy Bolton. An abortion sought after 22 weeks will require approval from two doctors, while doctors who conscientiously object to abortion will be required to refer a patient seeking a termination to a doctor that can provide one. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk called the result “historic”, saying “women will no longer have the fear of committing a crime when making the deeply personal decisions over their own bodies”. The reform leaves New South Wales as the only jurisdiction in Australia where abortion is still a crime.

Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has hinted he may attempt to retake the Nationals leadership, raising questions about the tenure of current leader Michael McCormack. 2GB Radio shock jock Ray Hadley accused McCormack on Wednesday of “being the source of many of the leaks undermining Barnaby Joyce” when Joyce was leader, claiming Nationals MPs had “just about had enough” of McCormack’s leadership. Speaking to Sky News on Wednesday, Joyce said “if anything was offered to me, I’d take it. It is faux modesty to say if you’re offered a job, you’ll turn it down”. McCormack rebuked Nationals MPs in a speech to parliament on Tuesday, saying “I think there is a cancer in Canberra at the moment, it is people who background journalists”.

The Nauruan government has arrested and deported Australia’s chief medical officer in charge of refugee welfare. Dr Nicole Montana, the senior medical officer at health contractor International Health and Medical Services, was arrested on Tuesday and flown out of the country on Wednesday. In a statement, IHMS said Montana was deported “for a breach of Regional Processing Centre rules”, and that an unnamed “replacement senior medical officer is already in Nauru”. It is the second time in six weeks that IHMS’ senior medical officer has been removed from the island, after the Nauruan government revoked the visa of Dr Christopher Jones, Montana’s predecessor.

And environment minister Melissa Price has been accused of insulting Pacific Island nations after allegedly making comments to former Kiribati president Anote Tong. In a letter to Price, Labor senator Pat Dodson claimed Price reacted to being introduced to Tong in a Canberra restaurant by telling him “I know why you’re here. It is for the cash. For the Pacific it’s always about the cash. I have my chequebook here. How much do you want?” While Price said she disagreed “with what he has said was the conversation”, Refugee Council of Australia president Phil Glendenning, who was also at the dinner, said Dodson’s letter was “100 per cent accurate”. Tong led Kiribati for 13 years between 2003 and 2016, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for his advocacy for a strong global response to climate change.


“Being at the vanguard of a movement never suited him, and he’d struggled to shoulder the hero’s mantle, often wishing that he could shrug it off entirely. It had fallen on him heavy and unsolicited in 1952, in the form of a stranger’s menacing stare. Jennings then carried it into a California courtroom, where he declared himself a homosexual at a time when to be gay was to violate the law of the land. The pronouncement was valorous, and its impact was deeply felt, if not seen, in the years that followed.”


“On the afternoon of June 14, 2009, four women working in the fields got into a terrible argument over a drinking cup. Asia Bibi, the only Christian among them, allegedly grabbed the communal cup and drank from it before the other three could do so. The others claimed she had ‘contaminated’ the cup and that they should have been permitted to drink first. The argument escalated.”


“A picture at the locks’ visitor center from 1985 shows a glossy, fat sea lion labeled Herschel. His mouth is agape while he swallows an equally pinguid steelhead. At nearly half a tonne, he looks like he doesn’t care what you think about him. He looks like the Notorious B.I.G. ready to take on the west coast, gobbling through fish like a rapper blows through money.”


“The Morrison government’s decision to signal its willingness to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on the eve of the high-stakes Wentworth byelection has received a mixed reception at a forum hosted by a Jewish community group. Liberal candidate Dave Sharma faced accusations his party had exploited the complicated issue of Middle East policy for political advantage, as he fronted a crowd of about 300 at the headquarters of the National Council of Jewish Women in Woollahra on Tuesday night.”


“Statement from President Lesli Berger: I wish to respond to an allegation that I have endorsed Liberal candidate Dave Sharma for the Wentworth by-election. I have not endorsed any candidate in the upcoming by-election ... I did not agree to my public comments being used on a campaign flyer and I have requested that the flyer be withdrawn.”


“In 2013, Sylvester Stallone teamed up with the 106-year-old Italian luxury brand Montegrappa to create the Montegrappa Chaos Limited Edition. But a pen like this, inspired by 16th-century artists such as Battista Franco and Sebald Beham, couldn’t simply just be put on sale. No, a pen like this needed a trailer. The trailer, which has just resurfaced on social media, it is easily the most ostentatious project Sylvester Stallone has been involved with. It deserves to be deconstructed.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.