As the ABC announces massive job cuts, the Morrison government has commissioned a report that mirrors Murdoch concerns about the broadcaster.Two days before the ABC confirmed that up to 250 jobs will be cut across the organisation, the government finalised a $200,000 offer for consultants to prepare a report on news and media business models looking specifically at the impact of public broadcasters ‘on commercial operators’.
The House of Representatives has passed a bill against the wishes of government for the first time in 90 years, handing the Morrison government a historic legislative defeat. Labor, Greens and crossbench MPs secured 75 votes for independent MP Kerryn Phelps’ medivac bill on Tuesday, which would allow critically ill refugees in offshore detention to be transferred to Australia on the advice of doctors. The MPs agreed on amendments sought by Labor earlier in the day to give the home affairs minister 72 hours to act on individual cases, and disregarded last-minute legal advice from solicitor-general Stephen Donaghue that the bill was unconstitutional. The bill will return to the senate for final approval, where the government has vowed to block it. Greens MP Adam Bandt praised the collaborative process to pass the bill, saying “by all working together and putting refugees first, we've just made a huge difference”.
The Queensland Liberal-National Party has detailed a series of sexual assault and harassment allegations against expelled state MP Jason Costigan. Speaking in state parliament on Tuesday, state manager of opposition business Jarrod Bleijie said Costigan had sexually harassed an 18-year-old woman while staying on a remote Queensland farm, sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl at a music festival, sent explicit text messages to another 16-year-old, and that Costigan was reported “leering and staring” at a 17-year-old waitress in a cafe. Costigan was expelled from the LNP in January after several complaints of Costigan’s alleged “disgusting behaviour” came to light. State opposition leader Deb Frecklington called on Costigan to resign rather than move to the crossbench, saying on Friday that “he has disgraced the office and he should go now”.
Refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi has arrived back in Australia after being released by Thai authorities. Met by a welcoming crowd and a media scrum at Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport on Tuesday, al-Araibi thanked “all the people here, all of Australia, the media who have supported me”. “I don't have citizenship yet, [but] my country is Australia. I love Australia”, al-Araibi said. Greens leader Richard Di Natale said on Tuesday his party would push for a parliamentary inquiry into al-Araibi’s detention “to ensure that Australia never risks the safety of a refugee again”. Al-Araibi was detained in November after Australian authorities tipped off their Thai counterparts that he was visiting Thailand on his honeymoon.
Family violence and social services workers have criticised prime minister Scott Morrison’s $78 million funding announcement for domestic violence initiatives. Speaking to the ABC’s RN Drive on Monday, Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia executive officer Karen Willis said the proposal was “very light on detail” and “a splash in the bottom of the bucket”. Referring to Morrison’s announcement of $60 million investment in emergency housing over three years, Willis said “we need at least another nought on that”. A separate $18 million, earmarked for keeping women and children in their homes, resembles a Labor policy announced after the government cut funding for the Keeping Women Safe In Their Homes program in November. As social services minister in 2014, Morrison presided over funding cuts to homelessness, affordable housing and financial advice services.
And Nationals senator for New South Wales John “Wacka” Williams will give his valedictory speech in the Senate today. A backbencher the entirety of his 11-year political career, Williams was instrumental in securing the royal commission into the banking and finance sector. Williams pressured the federal government for years on the issue, crossing the floor several times to support Greens motions calling for a royal commission and highlighting the experiences of farmers hurt by irresponsible lending practices.