Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Disarray after Banks quits Liberals

The federal government has fallen further into minority status after the member for Chisholm, Julia Banks, announced her resignation from the Liberal Party and moved to the crossbench. Speaking in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Banks said the actions of “the reactionary and regressive right wing, who talk to themselves rather than listening to the people” had prompted her to resign from the Liberals. Banks hit out at “the major parties’ obstructionist and combative actions and internal games,” and said the leadership coup against former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull “was aided by many MPs trading their vote for a leadership change in exchange for their individual promotion, preselection endorsements or silence”. While Banks guaranteed to support the government on matters of confidence and supply, her move will likely make it even more difficult for the government to resist motions brought forward by Labor, the Greens and the crossbench, which now comprises seven MPs.

Prime minister Scott Morrison has confirmed the date of the next federal budget, likely setting the stage for a May election. Speaking on Tuesday, Morrison said the government would deliver the budget on April 2, 2019, with the election to follow. Morrison told reporters he would “let you do the maths” about the likely date of the next election, and that “it is our intention to deliver a surplus budget”. Governments traditionally avoid calling elections on public and school holidays, which likely rules out much of April.

More than 4000 federal public servants say they have witnessed corruption in the past year, according to a new report from the Australian Public Service Commission. Tabled in parliament on Monday, the APSC’s State of the Service report found that 4395 public service employees “witnessed behaviour that may be serious enough to be viewed as corruption”, with “cronyism, followed by nepotism” being the most common. The number of public servants investigated for corruption has fallen sharply in the last few years, with just 78 people investigated in 2017-18 compared to 209 in 2014-15. The report also noted “an ongoing decline in the trust Australians have across all three tiers of government”.

And NASA’s InSight lander has begun sending back photographs from Mars after successfully landing on the red planet on Monday. Launched in May, InSight became the first spacecraft to touch down on Mars since the Curiosity rover in 2012. InSight will measure seismic activity and the temperature on Mars, charging its batteries by using solar energy. “There’s a quiet beauty here. Looking forward to exploring my new home,” the lander mission said in a Tweet.



“February 8, 2017 was not the date of any election, referendum or major crisis in Australia. Rather, it was the date of a Twitter hashtag game: #MakeTVShowsAustralian. The idea was simple – humorously alter the names of TV shows with Australian slang. From a large building in St Petersburg, the Russian troll farm saw an opportunity.”


“I bristle when someone calls out ‘Be careful’ as I’m halfway out the door. My boyfriend says it but he’s loath to leave a good party prematurely, and loves to walk the city on his own. My dad is always telling me to be careful of hoons and yahoos ... Both men are fiercely protective of their own right to make risky choices. They care about my safety, of course they do. But I suspect they care more about their own freedom, including the freedom not to worry about me.”


“The building we’re in is one I’ve passed hundreds of times without giving it a second thought; it’s wedged incongruously between a petrol station and a traditional barber. I’m not sure what I’d been expecting for the headquarters of the Victorian Opera. Lush velvet curtains and chandeliers, perhaps? A lot of mahogany? Maybe a ghost?”


“Despite the president’s promise to bring jobs back to the United States, technology has caused massive upheaval in the manufacturing industry. Labor-intensive manufacturing is rapidly disappearing from communities like Erie and economists say traditional factory jobs are not coming back.”


“One of the plants where General Motors plans to slash production and lay off workers next year sits in an area that president Donald Trump promised to revive, within a swing state that will help to decide his bid for a second term in the White House. The Detroit-based automaker announced restructuring plans Monday that could result in the closure of five North American plants in Michigan, Ohio, Maryland and Canada.”


“‘After thousands of hours of observation, we are forced to conclude that any dog witnessed making even the slightest of movements in its sleep is living out a cathartic vision of absolutely mauling their owners’, said lead researcher Dr. Hana Michaels, adding that any dog, regardless of breed, size, gender, or degree of training, was visualising the act of devouring its master if observed fidgeting even the slightest bit while sleeping.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.