Prime minister Scott Morrison ignored an Australian Security Intelligence Organisation warning that a proposal to move Australia’s Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem could cause violence in Palestine. An ASIO communique sent on October 15, obtained by Guardian Australia, reveals the agency warned the government that flagging such a move “may provoke protest, unrest and possibly some violence in Gaza and the West Bank”. It predicted that “Australian interests may be the target of protest activity”, and noted that “attacks and violent protests have previously occurred internationally after periods of heightened political tension”. Australia, the United States and Israel were the only nations to vote against a United Nations General Assembly resolution on Wednesday appointing the Palestinian Authority as the 2019 chair of the G77 bloc of emerging nations.
Former ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie has lodged a formal complaint with the Fair Work Commission over her sacking by the ABC board. Guthrie made the claim on Monday, alleging the circumstances of her dismissal breached the Fair Work Act. In September Guthrie said she was considering legal options after being sacked, saying “I believe there is no justification for the board to trigger [the] termination clause” in her employment contract. Guthrie and former ABC chair Justin Milne will likely appear ($) before a Greens-chaired Senate inquiry into the broadcaster’s political independence, due to report by March 29.
Former deputy prime ministers Tim Fischer and John Anderson have weighed into the Nationals’ leadership crisis, urging the party’s MPs to back leader Michael McCormack. Speaking to Fairfax, Fischer said “the last thing the Australian people want is any confirmation that white-anting has taken a permanent place in the Australian political landscape”. McCormack said on Thursday that he had “the majority support in the National Party”, saying “not one National Party member has come to me and said they’re dissatisfied in anything”.
And voters in the eastern Sydney seat of Wentworth will head to the polls tomorrow in a crucial byelection test for the Morrison government. Recent polling shows Liberal candidate Dave Sharma struggling to hold off high-profile independent Kerryn Phelps, who will likely benefit from Labor and Greens preferences in the seat vacated by Malcolm Turnbull. Former prime minister John Howard campaigned with Sharma on Thursday, saying that electing an independent would “rob the Morrison government of its working majority and make the remaining months of this term of office very difficult”. Phelps, Sharma and Labor candidate Tim Murray condemned an anonymous email falsely claiming Phelps had withdrawn from the race after being diagnosed with HIV, with Phelps calling the smear “shocking and disturbing”.