Friday, February 01, 2019

RAAF jets in deadly civilian airstrike

Two Royal Australian Air Force fighter jets were involved in an airstrike that killed up to 18 civilians in Iraq, Australian Defence Force officials have admitted. During a battle between coalition forces and Islamic State for the northern city of Mosul in June 2017, two F/A-18F Super Hornets were called in to drop guided missiles on a group of ISIS fighters. Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, chief of joint operations, said on Thursday that “between six and 18 civilians may have been killed, and that's based on an assessment of population densities”. Civilian deaths in the strike were first reported by non-profit organisation Airwars, which tracks civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq from coalition airstrikes. Airwars director Chris Woods said “all of the victims came from one extended family and four families within that larger family”. In March last year, the ADF admitted that an RAAF Super Hornet most likely killed a newly married couple and two young children in an airstrike on a Mosul house in May 2017.

The head of the South Australian royal commission into the Murray-Darling Basin Plan has accused the Murray-Darling Basin Authority of being “unwilling or incapable of acting lawfully”. In the royal commission’s final report, released on Thursday, commissioner Bret Walker SC found that climate change could lead to a “catastrophic” reduction in water run-off throughout the basin, that the authority’s plan “was not based on the best available scientific knowledge”, and is “an indefensible decision from a policy perspective”. Walker also found that “politics rather than science” drove the decision to fix the amount of water set aside for conservation purposes, accusing the MDBA board of “maladministration”.

Mining giants BHP and Rio Tinto have declared support for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament recommended in the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart. In a speech to the Committee for Economic Development Australia in Perth on Thursday, BHP chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said “the Constitution should be amended so that the voices of Indigenous Australians can be fully heard”, and that “this great country has unfinished business with the Indigenous peoples of Australia”. In a statement, Rio Tinto managing director of Australia, Joanne Farrell, said “enshrining the First Nations Voice in the Constitution is important to ensure continued participation in decisions about Indigenous rights and interests”. Prime minister Scott Morrison responded cautiously, saying it was “practical things that matter most to me when it comes to Indigenous Australians”.

More than 100 Aboriginal residents of a Queensland housing estate have been told to vacate their homes so their properties can be sold at auction. The 37 Toowoomba properties were previously owned by Aboriginal housing company Downs Aborigines and Islanders Company Ltd, and were transferred to holding company Downs Housing in 2016. Wakka Wakka traditional owner Patricia Conlon told NITV many tenants in the estate, some of whom have lived in their homes for four decades, were “distraught, they don’t know who to turn to or what to do”. A petition urging the state government to step in and purchase the homes has gathered more than 1800 signatures.

And Kurdish Iranian refugee journalist Behrouz Boochani has been awarded the Victorian Prize for Literature at the Premier’s Literary Awards. Boochani won both the $100,000 literature prize and the $25,000 prize for non-fiction for his memoir, No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison. Boochani, who has been held on Manus Island since 2013, told Nine newspapers he did not “want to celebrate this achievement while I still see many innocent people suffering around me”. “This award is important because it brings enormous shame to the Australian government,” he said.



“For more than a decade, Meat & Livestock Australia’s lamb advertisements themed around Australia Day became almost as much a part of summer as flies and sunburn. Every year there was a new ad, with a fresh tirade from that parody of a right-winger, Sam Kekovich, insisting that the only patriotic way to celebrate our national day was with lamb on the barbecue.”


“If the government scaremongering can be dismissed, the need to keep the economy growing and generating jobs cannot, particularly in the face of stiffening global economic headwinds. Australia’s dream run of 27 years of uninterrupted growth cannot last forever, and it has been Labor’s historic misfortune to be in power for three of the last four big global economic shocks: the 1973 oil shock, the ‘black Monday’ stock market crash of 1987, and the global financial crisis of 2008.”


“The first encounter of The Theatre Is Lying is with a screen, transparent and flat, supported by a metal frame, castors and handles. A screen to be moved; a screen for seeing through, not around. The artist, Consuelo Cavaniglia, makes work that forces us to encounter architectural space, embedding us in its network, its system. Hers is a theatre of five dimensions.”


“The banking industry’s chief lobbyist concedes that civil or criminal referrals to Commonwealth prosecutors are a live possibility, when the final report of the banking royal commission is released on Monday. The former Queensland Labor premier, now chief executive of the Australian Banking Association, Anna Bligh, said banks are bracing for ‘sobering reading and some very serious recommendations’.”


“[Kenneth Hayne has] been very mindful, Leigh, I think, of the impact of this royal commission on the financial system and I think he’s been careful not to exacerbate problems particularly around credit restrictions. Now we have seen a fair bit of that happening and that has been impacting on the economy and so it’s important that we ensure stability in how we respond to this report, and making sure that the economy can continue to kick along without any unnecessary shocks.”


Nearly 13 years after shooting the prominent Texas attorney and political donor in the face, former vice president Dick Cheney told reporters Tuesday he had finally hunted down Harry Whittington and killed him in cold blood.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.