Friday, December 07, 2018

Morrison stares down asylum seeker push

The federal government has narrowly avoided losing a crucial vote in parliament, derailing a cross-party push to force the government to transport sick refugees and asylum seekers to Australia for medical treatment. While the Senate passed a bill on Thursday mandating that people held in offshore detention be brought to Australia for medical assessment on the advice of two doctors, filibustering by conservative senators ensured the bill only passed after the House of Representatives had adjourned for the year. Prime minister Scott Morrison furiously rebuked the Labor Party for supporting the push, saying on Thursday that the legislation would “abolish offshore processing as we know it” and calling opposition leader Bill Shorten “a clear and present threat to Australia's safety”. While Labor’s support ensured the passage of anti-encryption legislation, parliament’s adjournment left several major reforms undone, including anti-discrimination protections for LGBTI children in religious schools and the government’s proposed “big stick” energy policy.

Two coronial investigations have heard details of how an Aboriginal man and woman died in custody. On Thursday, the Coroners Court of Victoria began its inquest into the death of Tanya Day, a Yorta Yorta woman who died in Bendigo last year after being detained for public drunkenness. Day’s children have questioned how their mother sustained a head injury while in a cell at Castlemaine police station. In her opening statement, Victorian coroner Caitlin English said she would recommend the state abolish the offence of public drunkenness, noting that the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody recommended states and territories do so in 1991. Day’s uncle, Harrison Day, died in custody in 1982 after being arrested over an unpaid fine for the same offence. In South Australia, an inquest into the death of Wayne “Fella” Morrison, who died after an altercation with guards at Yatala prison in September 2016, heard on Wednesday that the guards involved should not have to give evidence as doing so may expose them to criminal charges.

Labor MP Emma Husar will sue BuzzFeed Australia and political reporter Alice Workman for defamation over a series of articles claiming she bullied staffers and exposed herself to a colleague. In July and August, BuzzFeed published details of an internal investigation into claims about Husar’s conduct, including allegations she had sexually harassed staffers and diverted taxpayer money into her personal bank account. Shortly afterward, Husar announced she would resign from politics at the next federal election, a decision she has since indicated she was reconsidering. Speaking in the House of Representatives on Thursday, Husar said BuzzFeed and Workman never asked her for comment before publishing the stories. “I am not a bully, I am not Sharon Stone. I am not a thief”, Husar said. NSW Labor officials will meet today to decide if Husar or former state minister Diane Beamer would be the party’s candidate in Lindsay.

And LGBTI rights groups have criticised former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce for arguing that single-sex private schools should retain the right to expel or refuse admission to transgender children. Speaking to Sky News political reporter David Speers on Thursday, Joyce said “you cannot send a student whose genetic makeup is XY … to a school established for people who are XX”, and that transgender students could “choose a different school”. Transgender and gender diverse children’s advocate, Jo Hirst, told The New Daily that Joyce should resign, saying he “has shown zero understanding or compassion for transgender students” and had “blatantly flout[ed] the recommendations of our health professionals”.


“While others among Australia’s Five Eyes security partners have varying data access laws, none are believed to be as extensive as those proposed in Australia. While its crime-fighting utility has been acknowledged, the encryption bill has also attracted international warnings about potential downsides. A group of security experts from Australian and international universities, including Cambridge and Harvard, have warned the committee of potential negative implications.”


“Can I give my eyewitness testimony? I’ve spent many months talking to hundreds of Trump supporters, all over the United States, and by tour’s end thought them more ignorant, prejudiced and malicious than I did at the beginning ... Experience in the ‘real world’ doesn’t dislodge the impression that Trumpism is driven by racism. It cements it.”


I Used To Be Normal got its title from Elif, who was a 16-year-old Long Island student when she first sat in front of Leski’s camera to declare her adoration for ‘the boys’ – One Direction. She howled the line, her face red with tears, at a pizza party with fellow Directioners, to illustrate how extreme her transformation had been from ‘normal’ to fan.”


“Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said that the legislation, unamended ‘could well do more harm than good’. ‘It could impose a significant risk to Australia’s national security, jeopardise security cooperation with the United States, and create unnecessary risks for Australian businesses’, he said. Dreyfus even said during his speech that he was still attempting to resolve disputes over some of the issues in the bill as he was speaking about how he would support it to pass.”


“The fact that only two MPs opposed the bill was even more extraordinary given that Labor MPs spent the morning giving speeches on how rubbish the bill was, how rushed and flawed it was. Even Labor MP Tim Watts, who wrote this fantastic Twitter thread outlining the problems with the bill earlier this week, still voted for it.”


“A soccer match between Argentinian teams Juventud Unida and Defensores de Belgrano nearly ended in mild disaster on Sunday, when a Defensores keeper kicked the ball into the back of an opposing player. With an open goal behind the keeper, the situation could’ve ended in embarrassment. But as you’ll see, a rogue dog on the field managed to pull off one of the saves of the year.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.