Monday, February 18, 2019

Labor sets sights on Paladin contract

Federal Labor will pursue the government this week over a lucrative offshore detention security contract awarded to the Paladin Group. The Australian Financial Review reported ($) last week that the government awarded Paladin the $423 million contract to provide security services on Manus Island and Nauru in a closed tender process, despite company founder Craig Thrupp being involved ($) in several failed business ventures across Asia. Speaking on Sunday, Insiders host Barrie Cassidy questioned federal attorney-general Christian Porter on why the government awarded the contract to a company whose registered headquarters is “a beach shack at the end of a dirt road” on Kangaroo Island.

The Queensland branch of the Construction, Forestry, Mining, Maritime and Energy Union has threatened to campaign against Labor candidates unless opposition leader Bill Shorten declares his support for major mining projects in the state. Speaking to The Australian ($), CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland president Steve Smyth said “if you want support for us, you pledge your support for the coal industry”, and that “if we have to, we will campaign against those MPs no matter which party they’re in, even if they’re perched up in the little cosy suburbs somewhere in the southeast drinking their lattes”. Shorten has refused to make a firm declaration either way on the controversial Carmichael coal mine project in central Queensland.

Shadow social services minister Linda Burney has indicated Labor would likely raise the Newstart allowance if it wins government at the next federal election. Speaking to Nine newspapers on Sunday, Burney said “I don't think that there is one person in our caucus, including our leader, who believes that Newstart is adequate”, but that “you've also got to win the argument in public” before raising the rate. Community service organisations and the Greens have criticised Labor’s refusal to commit to raising Newstart, which has not been raised in real terms since 1994.

And in the United States, state governments, progressive lobby groups and Democratic politicians have announced legal challenges president Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to fund construction of a wall along the Mexican border. Speaking on Friday, Trump seemingly undercut his own legal rationale for declaring an emergency, admitting “I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn't need to do this, but I would rather do it much faster”. American Civil Liberties Union executive director Anthony Romero called the move “a patently illegal power grab”, while several landowners in southern Texas filed suit on Friday, contesting the government’s likely seizure of their land. Congress repeatedly blocked Trump-endorsed attempts to fund a wall, leading to the longest government shutdown in US history and a dive in Trump’s approval rating.



“As parliament resumes for the year, the passage of the independents’ medivac bill with Labor’s support has seen the clearest battleline yet drawn between the opposition and the government ahead of the looming federal election. It has delivered Prime Minister Scott Morrison both what he fought to avoid and also what he most wants.”


“Flipping punk’s perceived machismo, Shelley, who was bisexual, crucially wrote from a gender ambiguous perspective – doubly rare in the heterosexual-skewed landscape of big guitar rock. Born Peter McNeish to working-class parents in Leigh, near Manchester, the musician built gender duality into his identity: he took the surname Shelley, claiming it was his parents’ option if he’d been a girl, and also as a tribute to Shelley Winters.”


“While I have only been in the parliament for a short time, the passing of this bill represents the tireless efforts of refugee advocates, doctors, parliamentarians and the Australian community. It follows the advice of the AMA, medical colleges and thousands of doctors across Australia, and is in line with the views of refugee advocates and fair-minded people everywhere, including to many people in the parliament from across party lines.”


“Three high-ranking Young Liberals have rejected the need for ‘dehumanising’ quotas or a new strategy to attract women to the party, insisting there has been a surge in females filling senior roles in the youth wing. Young Liberals federal president Josh Manuatu, NSW vice-president Brigid Meney and former NSW president Alex Dore said women were more engaged than ever and argued the tumultuous period in federal politics had not diminished their interest in becoming members.”


“Four NSW Young Liberals have been kicked out of the party for making lewd and derogatory comments about women in an online chat group meant for election campaigning. The four used the dating app Tinder to connect with women who they hoped to convince to vote Liberal and then made sexually explicit comments about them in a Facebook group.”


“‘It’s repulsive’, Joan Ribley wrote in the comments section of a national media website, before tweeting her concerns, using the hashtag #disgrace. ‘Sorry, but this is just another example of what’s wrong with this country. People taking a non-issue and then turning it into some sort of major concern, as if they’re outraged by it. It’s absolutely sickening – someone should resign over this’.”

Alex McKinnon is Schwartz Media's morning editor.