Friday, March 29, 2019

Coalition splits on One Nation preferences

Prime minister Scott Morrison has announced the federal Liberal Party will preference One Nation below Labor at the next election, reducing the minor party’s chances of winning seats in the House of Representatives. Speaking on Thursday, Morrison said he took the decision “based on our strong view about the sanctity of Australia's gun laws and to ensure that at no stage that those things should ever be put at risk”. Morrison had been under pressure to shut One Nation out after the Christchurch terror attack and revelations this week that senior One Nation officials travelled to the United States last year to solicit donations from the National Rifle Association. While Liberal-National Party MPs and candidates who sit in the Liberal party room would follow Morrison’s directive, LNP figures that sit with the Nationals have left open ($) the possibility of directing preferences to One Nation on how-to-vote cards.

Labor senate leader Penny Wong will warn of the risk to democracy posed by racism and hate speech in an oration today. Speaking at the McKinnon oration in Melbourne (not named after me, sadly), Wong will say that political leaders must “face unflinchingly the threat of racism and prejudice, honestly recognise trends towards the normalisation of prejudice and hate speech, and work together to see off these risks”, and that hate speech “cannot be defended on grounds of freedom of speech because it inflicts real and direct harm”. Wong has been named the McKinnon Political Leader of the Year for 2018, alongside Western Australia Greens senator Jordon Steele-John.

Workers at pharmacy chain Chemist Warehouse have won large pay rises and an overhauled employment agreement, bringing a two-week strike at the chain’s distribution centres to an end. Workers at Chemist Warehouse centres in Melbourne and Brisbane voted to strike earlier this month in protest at low pay, insecure work and sexual harassment, leading to low shelf stocks at Chemist Warehouse stores around the country. Employees obtained an immediate pay rise of 8.75 per cent, with pay to increase by up to 22.5 per cent over four years, as well as a job security clause ensuring labour hire workers are made permanent after six months. In a statement, National Union of Workers secretary Tim Kennedy said “at a time of collective wage stagnation, it’s great to see workers in the union collectively bargain for wage increases, secure jobs and respect at work”.

And Victorian police have sparked panic at a Melbourne train station after responding to a call that misidentified an Aboriginal musician carrying a yidaki as a potential terrorist carrying a firearm. Critical incident response police swarmed a stationary train at Flagstaff station on Thursday, detaining busker and Keerray Wurrung and Peek Wurrung man Will Austin, who was carrying a yidaki and cultural artefacts in a long bag. Passenger Sarsha Vadocz told the ABC the heavy police response included “special response units running around everywhere, they had fully automatic weapons and riot shields and they were yelling at people to get back in the train”. Writing on Facebook, Austin said “ I’m not carrying no rifle or ammunition fellas”.


“What is the right balance between safeguarding the integrity of the game and protecting the welfare and privacy of players? And should footballers who dabble in recreational drugs that provide no competitive edge be held to a higher standard than thousands of young people who use the same drugs in nightclubs every weekend?”


“If One Nation’s primary vote collapses due to a public backlash, as all sides hope, then preference flows will matter that much less. It is a dilemma for the Coalition, which on the one hand needs the preference flows of One Nation, but which faces Labor being helped by the right-wing vote being split. Under pressure from the Nationals, the prime minister is today determinedly dodging calls from inside his own party to follow Labor and put One Nation last.”


“The Hesson exhibition is beautifully thought out and spaciously laid out. The bucolic video of The Cedars at its beginning, all rustling trees and birdsong, sets the mood. Rooms following are devoted to both Heysen’s still lifes and Nora’s flower paintings, her portraits as a World War II war artist and all his paintings of mighty trees and evocations of landscape. The works demand reassessment of both father and daughter.”


“Home affairs minister Peter Dutton has labelled Greens politicians ‘as bad as Fraser Anning’ after they accused him of playing a role in the Christchurch terrorist attack by fuelling anti-Islamic sentiment in Australia ... ‘I'm hardly going to take morals lectures from the extreme left who, frankly, are just as bad in this circumstance as people like Fraser Anning, they should equally be condemned’, he said.”


“The new hard-right meme of blaming the Greens for the Christchurch terror attack shows how their propaganda works. It started as a blog post by a local extremist on a Tommy Robinson website. Days later it’s the hook for a Herald Sun column, broadcast on Sky and repeated on Q&A.”


“The first family member to pull the pin on a light lunch today has made a point of cheerfully giving two toots of the horn as he doubles back from a u-turn at the end of nan’s cul-de-sac.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.