Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Stuart Robert offers tips to donors

Federal assistant treasurer Stuart Robert has been widely criticised for offering to tell political supporters about a potential government response to the banking industry royal commission at a fundraiser. On an invitation to “lunch with Stuart Robert”, sent to potential donors and obtained by Fairfax, Robert offers an “opportunity to learn more about what ramifications may arise for the finance industry from the royal commission into misconduct in the banking, superannuation and financial services industry”. Robert’s own finances have come under scrutiny in recent weeks, with a 7.30 report on Monday exploring his involvement in various companies. In October, Robert repaid nearly $38,000 in taxpayer-funded home internet bills.

Police have arrested the brother of Australian cricketer Usman Khawaja for allegedly attempting to frame a colleague as a terrorist. Arsalan Khawaja was arrested at his parents’ Sydney home on Tuesday and charged with one count of attempting to pervert the course of justice and one count of forgery for allegedly making a false document. Police alleged Khawaja was behind the list of supposed terror and assassination targets that led to the wrongful arrest of Sri Lankan national Mohamed Kamer Nizamdeen in August. Nizamdeen was cleared of all charges in November after spending more than a month in Goulburn’s Supermax prison, and is now suing several media outlets over their coverage of his arrest. Police alleged Khawaja framed Nizamdeen “in a planned and calculated manner” over “a personal grievance”, reportedly a dispute over a woman.

In the United Kingdom, the House of Commons has voted to find prime minister Theresa May’s government in contempt for refusing to release legal advice on its Brexit plan. In an historic vote, the Commons ordered cabinet to publish the advice by Wednesday. The Commons also voted to give Parliament control of the Brexit process if Parliament votes down May’s agreement, raising questions over the prime minister’s ability to command a majority of votes on the floor. Parliament will vote on the full Brexit deal next week, likely deciding the fate of May’s government.

And the federal government has apologised to ABC Radio presenter Patricia Karvelas after she was barred from Question Time for wearing a short-sleeved top. Karvelas tweeted on Tuesday that she had been “kicked out of #QT because you can allegedly see too much skin”, along with a photo of the offending garment. Speaking on Wednesday, House of Representatives speaker Tony Smith said Karvelas “was attired in a way which would be reasonably considered professional business attire”, and should “not have been asked to leave”. Leader of the house Christopher Pyne also offered a formal apology.


“It was the morning of the day the Herald Sun would carry his name on its front page, and Paul McMillan was on suicide watch. Hours earlier, the Greens staffer had presented himself to a hospital’s emergency department, accompanied by his partner. He first told his story to a triage nurse, who later asked McMillan’s partner if the story was true.”


“Here’s the thing: Ningaloo isn’t saved. Worse than that, its future is now in jeopardy. Because during all those years of celebration and consolidation, despite the success of ecotourism and the research attention and the prestige that came with World Heritage listing, the fossil-fuel industry was moving in. And by moving in, I mean culturally, not just territorially.”


“Labor in the Victorian campaign cashed in on the low standing of the Liberal government in Canberra. All of its negative advertisements, billboards, radio and TV, over 50 per cent of a huge spend, featured Morrison, Dutton and Tony Abbott. This was a none-too-subtle reminder of leadership instability, unpopular spending cuts and the absence of the much more popular Malcolm Turnbull.”


“New national security laws dealing with encrypted communications are likely to pass parliament by the end of the week, as Labor and the government have come to an in-principle agreement on key parts of the bill after a series of concessions from the Coalition.”


“Whatever backdoor they add will affect everyone using that app or tech service, and that backdoor can potentially be discovered and abused by anyone. If the government’s new bill forces tech companies to make this kind of change, then everyone’s security will be put at risk, with potentially global repercussions. In fact, some tech companies have suggested they might just leave Australia if the laws are passed, rather than risk losing the trust of their customers around the world.”


“In Soviet Russia, the only playing-card vendor was the Soviet State. But that didn’t mean the decks they issued were boring. These particular cards were inspired by original Mayan artworks found in Mexico and designed by Russian artist Viktor Mihajlovich Sveshnikov, who also designed a deck featuring Russian opera scenes and another dedicated to the Neva River, which flows through St. Petersburg.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.