Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Disability royal commission confirmed

The federal government has announced a royal commission into violence, neglect and abuse of people in the disability care sector. News Corp reported on Monday that $527 million had been allocated to the commission in this week’s budget, the most ever devoted to a royal commission. People with Disability Australia co-chief executive Matthew Bowden said the funding was justified as “the scope is very big so the funding needs to reflect that”. Writing on Facebook on Monday, West Australian Greens senator Jordon Steele-John said the commission was made possible “because of the disability activists who fought tirelessly, alongside our Greens movement, to see justice done”.

More than 70 per cent of religiously motivated hate crimes in New South Wales are directed at Muslims, according to a new study of NSW Police Force data. A Picture of Bias Crime in New South Wales, a study drawing on NSW Police reports on hate crimes from 2013 to 2016, found that “people from Asian, Indian/Pakistani and Muslim backgrounds are the most likely victims to report bias crime” and that there was “an increase of approximately 20 per cent in religiously-motivated cases against Muslim victims”. Sydney Institute of Criminology professor Gail Mason, who authored a journal article about the study, told SBS that “governments and police need to be putting the resources into analysing that data so that we actually know what's happening in the problem of hate crime”.

An inquiry into the federal government’s awarding of a multimillion-dollar contract to a secretive company once based out of a shack on Kangaroo Island has been expanded to investigate all contracts covering Australia’s offshore detention program. In a letter to shadow immigration minister Shayne Neumann on Monday, Commonwealth auditor-general Grant Hehir confirmed that his office would investigate contracts worth up to $1 billion between the department of home affairs and private companies to provide security, medical, transport and accommodation services at Australian-run offshore detention camps. In January, the Australian Financial Review reported ($) that the federal government had extended a $423 million security contract with the Paladin Group, despite the company’s director, Craig Thrupp, reportedly leaving a “string of bad debts and failed contracts across Asia”.

And the National Roads and Motorists’ Association has called for a ban on new petrol and diesel-fuelled cars within the next decade. Speaking to the ABC’s Four Corners on Monday, NRMA chief executive Rohan Lund said “our targets here need to be a bit more aggressive than what we're seeing in other markets”, as governments in Europe and the United Kingdom have already legislated phase-outs of fossil fuel-powered vehicles. The call coincided with federal Labor’s pledge on Monday to increase the number of electric vehicles on Australian roads. Just 0.2 per cent of cars in Australia are electric, compared to 49.2 per cent in Norway.



“The result in last weekend’s New South Wales election may have delivered a largely status quo government in the nation’s most populous state, but it also sent a few messages to Canberra. Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten have responded to what happened – and what has happened federally in the week since – and directed their operations accordingly.”


“Lyle Shelton came of age on the grave of a volcano. There was no saving him from the flames. In the beginning, before the same-sex marriage postal survey and National Press Club appearances, before the Sky News interview slots and #eatshitlyle memes on Twitter, he served the Toowoomba City Church, a Pentecostal congregation started by his father, Ian, from the ashes of a right-wing cult.”


“On Tuesday night the treasurer will unveil the first budget of the Morrison government, which the polls suggest will almost certainly be the last fiscal prescription of the shambles that has been the six-year-old Coalition government. The budget will be Scott Morrison’s attempt to buy his way back to the Treasury benches. But many of his troops believe it is too late.”


“As a meeting of the federal parliamentary Liberal Party broke up last year, Scott Morrison approached Julie Bishop. ‘Could I have a word of advice, Julie?’ ... Would it be a foreign policy question, some developing crisis perhaps, or did he want the private number for a world leader? Bishop is noted for her collection of mobile numbers of the powerful and the celebrated. Or would he consult her on a political matter? Neither. ‘I’m going to see Tina Arena’, Morrison said. ‘Could you give me her number so I can tell her I’ll be at her opening show?’ ”


“Extra.ie was finally able to publish details of a handwritten letter from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to pop idol Kylie Minogue today, after two attempts by his Department to prevent its release. The short letter, dated October 3 from Mr Varadkar to Kylie – penned on official Office of the Taoiseach headed paper and signed ‘Leo V Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister)’ – the Taoiseach confessed to being a ‘huge fan’ and expressed his desire to welcome his idol to Ireland personally.”


“Citing concerns over historically high seasonal traffic and the resulting potential flight delays, a Canada goose was thinking of migrating home two to three weeks early in order to avoid the crowds, avian sources confirmed Friday. ‘My friends think I’m a bit neurotic, but I just want a quiet, stress-free flight home’, said the 8-year-old waterfowl, lamenting his experiences sharing a pond with, ‘like, 500 tired and stressed-out geese’ during his return trip to Wisconsin last mating season.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.