Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Guthrie accuses Milne of inappropriate conduct

Former ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie has claimed former ABC chair Justin Milne touched her inappropriately at a Sydney restaurant in 2017. Speaking to the ABC’s Four Corners, Guthrie said Milne rubbed her back at a board dinner last November, described the interaction as “icky … unprofessional and inappropriate”. Guthrie met with another member of the board to discuss the incident, but declined to make a formal complaint. Milne denied Guthrie’s claim, saying he “never, ever acted inappropriately with Michelle, or indeed with any other woman in the workforce, or any other woman at all”. Milne and Guthrie appeared on the program as part of a report into the ABC’s leadership crisis in September, which resulted in both leaving the organisation. Guthrie is suing Milne and the ABC.

Major universities have hit out at the federal government’s proposed cuts to research funding. Speaking to Fairfax on Monday, Group of Eight chief executive Vicki Thomson said “we are under assault on a number of different fronts – on teaching and learning, on research and on funding”. Besides the funding reallocation, which would take $134 million from the Research Support Program to fund regional universities, vice-chancellors have expressed dismay at education minister Dan Tehan’s proposed “national interest test” for academic research grants. The test would allow ministers to block research that they believed was not in line with Australia’s strategic interests.

Prime minister Scott Morrison has doubled down on comments blaming extreme Islamism for the Bourke Street attack, despite criticism from Muslim community organisations and the attacker’s family. Speaking on Monday, Morrison described attacker Hassan Khalif Shire Ali as “a radical extremist terrorist who took a knife to another Australian because he had been radicalised in this country”. Morrison dismissed claims from Shire Ali’s sister that he “suffered from mental illness for years” who had “been deteriorating these past few months”, and said claims of racist dog whistling were “the same, lame, old, tired excuse for not dealing with this problem”. The Australian National Imams Council accused Morrison on Sunday of “politicising this incident and using it for political gain”.

About 300 asylum seekers were prevented from travelling to Australia by boat in the last 14 months, according to home affairs documents obtained under freedom of information laws. The federal government’s Foreign Law Enforcement Agency taskforce, set up in 2013 as part of Operation Sovereign Borders, works with authorities in countries where people smugglers attempt voyages, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. Documents obtained by Guardian Australia revealed FLEA had conducted 78 operations to disrupt the movement of more than 2500 “potential illegal immigrants”, the department’s term for asylum seekers attempting to reach Australia by boat. About 14,000 refugees and asylum seekers currently live in Indonesia, about half of them from Afghanistan.

A woman accused of contaminating strawberries with sewing needles acted out of spite against her employer, a Brisbane court has heard. My Ut Trinh, 50, was arrested at the weekend and charged with seven counts of contamination of goods with intent to cause economic loss over the sabotage of strawberries, which came to light in September. Trinh worked as a supervisor at the Berrylicious and Berry Obsession farm in southeast Queensland when she “embarked on a course over several months of putting a metal object into fruit”, according to prosecutors. The contamination of fruit, and a series of hoaxes and copycat incidents, prompted retailers to pull strawberries from shelves, while producers were forced to dump tonnes of fruit.

And renowned comic-book writer Stan Lee has died, aged 95. The creator of Spiderman, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four and The Avengers, Lee revolutionised Marvel Comics in the 1960s by introducing characters with complex personalities dealing with realistic problems. Many of Lee's characters formed the basis for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the films of which have formed the highest-grossing movie franchise of all time.



“Despite the government’s recently announced commitment to relocate all children on Nauru to Australia by year’s end, contesting legal injunctions on medical transfers have risen dramatically this year. In recent senate estimates hearings, it was revealed that in the previous financial year, the government’s legal costs for these matters were $275,000. In just the first quarter of the current financial year, they ballooned to $480,000.”


“There are signs that the carefully contrived image is not actually going down too well with the punters. Partly it is just that he is trying too hard and it shows: there is a tinge of desperation in the strategy, the relentless grin, the extravagant optimism, the Panglossian determination that as long as he refuses to recognise the problems they will all dissipate.”


“When Tong took office as president in 2003, he began to advocate action on climate change. In his part of the world he sees things – with increasing regularity – that cannot be ignored: intense flooding, erosion, higher-energy storms, water contamination, the destruction of food crops. His fellow I-Kiribati are building seawalls; without them, homes would be lost. Scientists predicted Kiribati could be uninhabitable by 2050.”


“A charity feeding 710,000 Australians every month says the federal government has cut its budget almost in half just weeks before Christmas. Foodbank says funding for its Key Staples program, which makes sure essential supplies like rice, bread and vegetables get to hungry people, will drop from $750,000 to $427,000. ‘We are dumbfounded’, Foodbank chief executive Brianna Casey said.”


“Using Treasury data, as well as various ABS figures and the University of Melbourne’s HILDA survey, Per Capita calculated that major tax concessions totalling $135 billion per year were costing the budget more than the four main welfare payments – the aged pension, family assistance payments, disability benefits and Newstart – combined.”



“We regret to inform you that LNP member Andrew Laming is fighting with a Simpsons meme page on Facebook again. Laming, a Liberal National MP in the federal parliament representing the Queensland seat of Bowman, has reignited a two-year-long feud with the popular Simpsons Against The Liberals page.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.