Monday, November 19, 2018

APEC ends in disarray

Australia, the United States and Papua New Guinea have agreed to expand the Lombrum naval base on Manus Island to counter rising Chinese influence in the Asia-Pacific. Speaking at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Port Moresby on Saturday, US vice-president Mike Pence warned southeast Asian nations against buying into China’s Belt and Road initiative, saying “projects they support are often unsustainable and poor quality”. Australian prime minister Scott Morrison used the summit to lay out the case for free trade amid rising tensions between China and the US, warning on Saturday that “tit-for-tat protectionism and threats of trade wars are in no-one’s interests economically and undermine the authority of the global and regional trading rules that benefit us all”. The summit ended without leaders agreeing on a joint communique, with Pence and Chinese president Xi Jinping criticising each other over trade policy.

The federal government has awarded three-month contracts to charity and financial aid groups after funding cuts ahead of the Christmas season led to a public backlash. The department of social services disclosed on its website last week that temporary funding had been restored to 16 groups, including VincentCare Victoria, Anglicare South Australia and the Prisoners’ Legal Service. Social services minister Paul Fletcher was widely criticised last week after flagging cuts to food charities OzHarvest and Foodbank, while public anger at funding cuts to consumer rights groups, the Financial Rights Legal Centre and the Consumer Action Law Centre, on Wednesday led to more government sensitivity and their funding was quickly extended for another 12 months.

Actress Pamela Anderson has criticised prime minister Scott Morrison for making “smutty” and “lewd suggestions” about her on radio. Earlier this month Anderson appeared on the Nine Network’s 60 Minutes, urging Morrison to allow Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to return to Australia. Morrison brushed off Anderson’s comments, telling Gold Coast radio station Hot Tomato FM that “I’ve had plenty of mates who have asked me if they can be my special envoy to sort the issue out with Pamela Anderson”. In an open letter published on her website, Anderson said Morrison “trivialised and laughed about the suffering of an Australian and his family”, and made “smutty, unnecessary comments about a woman voicing her political opinion”.

And federal Labor’s shadow ministry will meet in Canberra today to agree on an energy and carbon reduction policy ahead of the next federal election. Fairfax reports that the policy will likely be modelled on the National Energy Guarantee, the draft Coalition policy that enjoyed broad support from businesses before being rejected to appease government conservatives. Labor’s policy will also likely include a commitment to cut electricity sector emissions 50 per cent by 2030.



“Seven years before he was sacked as managing director of Tourism Australia – amid serious concerns about his management practices – Scott Morrison was the subject of criticism in a New Zealand audit report examining his activities as head of NZ’s Office of Tourism and Sport.”


“In the opening scene, the eminent designer sits in a heather-purple velvet armchair, her posture louche, a bored look on her face, wearing a midnight-blue dress purposefully torn at the shoulders and hemline. Through the documentary, Westwood resists Tucker’s attempts to glean insight into her personal life and role in punk and fashion history.”


“The media and politicians have focused on the violent acts of a small number of people who took part in last week’s rebellion. These actions are a cry for help. They are desperately trying to get someone to pay attention to what is going on inside there. I don’t condone any harm done to guards, but I won’t turn my back on these kids, either.”


“After touring some of the fire damage in Northern California, president Donald Trump was asked whether seeing the devastation changed his opinion on climate change. ‘No, no I have a strong opinion. I want a great climate. We’re going to have that, and we are going to have that are [sic] very safe because we can’t go through this.’”


“When asked about the president’s visit to the area, Kirk Ellsworth, whose adult children lost their homes in the fire, shook his head in disgust. ‘My kids lost everything. I voted for him – and now? He can kiss my red ass’, Ellsworth said. ‘What he said was ridiculous. It hurts my heart. A lot of us voted for him and he [talks] down to us?’”


“Some athletes blame poor performances on the state of the pitch. Others blame it on tactics, or perhaps just a bad day at the office. But blaming your opponent for farting is definitely a new one. Yet that’s exactly what happened at the Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton, with both Gary Anderson and Wesley Harms denying responsibility for the ‘rotten egg smells’.”


Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.