The bodies of two people have been discovered as floodwaters begin to recede in some areas of Townsville. The two men, aged in their 20s, were found by emergency services workers in the suburb of Aitkenvale on Tuesday. Townsville has received more than its annual average rainfall in the last 10 days, recording more than a metre of rain as of Monday. Prime minister Scott Morrison, who toured the area on Tuesday, brushed off questions from media about the role of climate change in extreme weather events, saying he was “not engaging in broader policy debates today”. Speaking on Monday from Huonville in Tasmania, where bushfires have been burning for weeks, opposition leader Bill Shorten said that “even the most extreme climate deniers are probably at the point of acknowledging that we are having more and more extreme weather events”.
Both major federal political parties have declined to refuse donations from banks and financial institutions implicated in wrongdoing by the financial services royal commission. Speaking on Tuesday, treasurer Josh Frydenberg said banks “should be allowed, like any other legal institution in our community, to support political parties”, while shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said “nobody could suggest that any donation from a bank has influenced the Labor Party”. Australian Electoral Commission data released in January revealed the major banks and industry lobby groups donated more than $1 million to Labor and the Liberal and National parties in the 2017-18 financial year. Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has admitted his government was wrong to delay calling the royal commission, saying on Tuesday that “we should have got on with it earlier”.
Prime minister Scott Morrison has hit out at crossbench MPs’ rejection of the federal government’s proposed medical review board for refugees in offshore detention. In a letter to opposition leader Bill Shorten on Monday, Morrison claimed government agencies had warned him that “hundreds of what are now predominantly single males would be transferred from Manus and Nauru in a matter of weeks” if parliament passed legislation allowing refugees to be transferred to Australia on the advice of doctors. Crossbenchers reaffirmed support for the bill, proposed by independent MP Kerryn Phelps, with former Liberal MP Julia Banks saying on ABC’s Q&A on Monday she would “absolutely” support the transfer of unwell refugees. Independent member for Indi, Cathy McGowan, who will retire at the next election, has said she “will not give up on refugees and my voting record speaks for itself on this issue”.
And a journalistic investigation into late soul icon James Brown has claimed the singer and his third wife may have been murdered. In a three-part investigation by CNN, singer and circus performer Jacquelyn Hollander claims Brown raped her in 1988, while friends, family members and doctors called for an autopsy into Brown’s death in 2006. Read the investigation here.