Monday, December 10, 2018


Federal Labor MPs and workers in the technology industry have voiced concerns over the party’s support for legislation requiring smartphone makers and software developers to provide a “backdoor” into encryption services for Australian police and security agencies. In an open letter to Labor, titled “YOU BUNCH OF IDIOTS”, hundreds of tech industry workers excoriated Labor’s “gutless and spineless decision to blindly support the government's so-called ‘Assistance and Access Bill’ ”, warning that the law could force “companies such as Amazon, Apple, Atlassian, Microsoft, Slack, Zendesk and others” to “leave Australia”. Labor voted for the bill on Thursday without securing amendments, setting aside reservations raised by Labor MP Tim Watts. Speaking on Friday, shadow digital economy minister Ed Husic called the bill’s judicial oversights “tissue tough”, saying “there will be people who wonder why we did what we did”.

The New South Wales Greens have called on embattled upper house MP Jeremy Buckingham to step aside over accusations of sexual assault and inappropriate conduct. On Saturday, the party’s state delegates council ruled that “if Jeremy Buckingham remains on the ticket for the 2019 NSW election, the NSW Greens will not be able to campaign effectively on the issues which we all know are so urgent”. The council also allocated $20,000 to an independent review of the party’s complaints process, “focusing particularly on the party’s capacity to deal with and respond to issues relating to harassment, bullying and the loss of trust and good will”. In November, Greens state member for Newtown Jenny Leong called on Buckingham to resign, saying in parliament that his behaviour “had a real and lasting consequence on individual women, members and former members of our party”. In a Facebook post on Sunday, state upper house MP Cate Faehrmann said “the party in NSW has been infiltrated by destructive extreme left forces”.

Two Torres Strait Islander men who have been sent to immigration detention in Western Australia fear deportation. Andrew Kabe, who is being held in Yongah Hill detention centre east of Perth, was born in Papua New Guinea in 1967, before PNG gained independence from Australia in 1975. Another Yongah Hill detainee is Daniel Gibuma, 54, a PNG-born traditional owner of the island of Boigu, who has lived in Australia for 48 years. In November, PNG chief immigration officer Solomon Kantha said “PNG immigration will not allow anyone entry into the country until their citizenship status is verified and confirmed to be Papua New Guinean”.

And investment groups controlling about $30 trillion in assets have urged governments worldwide to take stronger action on climate change. In an open letter to governments ahead of the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Poland, the investors said “much more needs to be done by governments to accelerate the low carbon transition and to improve the resilience of our economy, society and the financial system to climate risks”. The group called on governments to meet the goals outlined in the Paris accord, encourage private investment in renewable energy, and “improve climate-related financial reporting”.


“As left-wing delegates to next week’s Australian Labor Party national conference gear up for a fight on a range of issues, including refugee policy, free trade and the level of the Newstart allowance, senior members of the faction are distancing themselves from previous suggestions a Labor government could seek to block the controversial Adani mining proposal.”


“Perhaps fittingly, Noël Coward was one of the cultural luminaries whose personal letters were embellished by the American writer-turned-literary-fraud Lee Israel, who, for a brief period in the early 1990s, successfully passed off forgeries purporting to be the letters of such noted artists. Israel was also queer, and developed a knack for performing to, and duly subverting, society’s expectations.”


“Together, Escott and Teakle are The Native Cats, one of Australia’s most quietly remarkable bands. The pair demonstrate the truth of most Tasmanian art, before MONA and its attendant festivals, separate from those exceptions who find success on the mainland or overseas: the music they make is for, and always has been for, other Tasmanians.”


“NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced that new laws will be introduced to crack down on illegal substances at music festivals across the state ... Pill testing has again been ruled out, with NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller bizarrely claiming that the idea of the service being able to save lives was a ‘myth’.”


“A teenager has died and three other people are in a critical condition in hospital from suspected drug overdoses at a music festival in Sydney's inner west. Police say the 19-year-old man died in Concord Hospital after attending Knockout Games of Destiny – billed as the biggest indoor festival in the southern hemisphere – at Sydney Olympic Park.”



“It’s a sight burned into the memory of every Australian cricket lover. As a batsman trudges back to the pavilion after being dismissed for nought, a little cartoon duck wearing a cap and leg pads appears from the left of the television screen.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.