Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Dutton donor debacle deepens

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has urged prime minister Scott Morrison to investigate reports that a Chinese billionaire seeking Australian citizenship paid tens of thousands of dollars for a private lunch with home affairs minister Peter Dutton. A joint investigation between Nine newspapers and the ABC’s Four Corners revealed on Tuesday that real estate developer Huang Xiangmo paid former Liberal senator Santo Santoro a five-figure sum to arrange a one-on-one meeting with Dutton at a Chinese restaurant in Sydney in 2016. In recordings published by the ABC, Santoro described Dutton as one of his “best friends”, and boasted that “there is nobody else anywhere who is better placed than me to help you through this particular part of the project”. Dutton also allowed then Labor senator Sam Dastyari to perform a private citizenship ceremony for Huang’s wife and two children in 2015. Speaking on Tuesday, Turnbull said “the idea that the minister responsible for enforcing those laws has had a meeting of this kind raises a lot of questions”, and that Morrison “can't waive this off and say that it is all part of gossip and of the bubble – this is the national security of Australia”.

Federal environment minister and former mining industry lawyer Melissa Price has approved groundwater management plans for the proposed Carmichael coalmine in Queensland, marking the final federal approval required for the mine to proceed. Federal government MPs have been feuding over the mine in recent weeks, with Queensland Liberal senator James McGrath reportedly threatening to demand Price’s resignation if approval did not occur before prime minister Scott Morrison called the federal election. Opposition leader Bill Shorten called the dispute “a failure of ethics in government at the highest level”, while downplaying the possibility a future Labor government would overturn the approval, saying on Tuesday that”we will just adhere to the law”. The mine still requires approvals from the Queensland state government before going ahead.

Car manufacturer Toyota and motoring organisation the National Roads and Motorists’ Association have undercut the federal government’s claim that Labor’s electric cars policy would negatively impact Australia’s most popular cars. Speaking on Tuesday, skills minister Michaelia Cash claimed Labor’s policy would force tradespeople to sell their Toyota Hilux utes, saying “we are going to stand by our tradies and we are going to save their utes”. In a statement, Toyota said it had “a global ambition of zero CO2 emissions from sites and vehicles by 2050 and Toyota Australia is part of that mission”, and that it was on track to sell 5.5 million electric vehicles in Australia by 2030. NRMA spokesperson Peter Khoury said “there is already work being done on the first electric ute, there will be electric vans, there are already electric buses”.

And federal Labor has warned it could do little to fix the National Broadband Network if it won the next election. Speaking on Tuesday, Labor communication spokesperson Michelle Rowland said “there are realities we cannot undo”, and that “Labor will not be offering a quick fix”. The NBN rollout has been dogged with cost and timetable blowouts, while experts have criticised the federal government’s replacement of fibre-the-the-premises with a multi-technology mix.



“The big picture is that the internal combustion engine is on the way out. Also on the fast-growing list of nations that have stamped a use-by date on fossil fuel cars are Norway (2025), Sweden, Denmark, Israel, Ireland and the Netherlands (all 2030). And most ambitious of all is the Central American republic of Costa Rica, which will ban sales of all new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2021.”


“It was not until 2012 that the full scale of what was taking shape in the Galilee became clear. As a Greenpeace report released that year showed, a total of nine mines had already been proposed by various companies, five of which would be among the biggest in the world. Collectively these mines would produce up to 330 million tonnes of coal a year, more than doubling the amount of coal Australia exported.”


“The ‘Pell 36’ are a concatenation of editors, reporters, producers of online content, morning-radio shockers and TV talking heads. Some are household names, others just names in their own households. The publishers include most of the bigwigs of Australian media: The Herald and Weekly Times, Queensland Newspapers, Nationwide News, Advertiser Newspapers, Fairfax Media, The Age Company, Macquarie Media, Nine Entertainment and, of course, Mamamia.”


“Internal Liberal Party polling is ‘diabolically bad’ for Tony Abbott in Warringah, according to senior Liberal sources, with the former prime minister facing a 12 per cent swing that could sweep him out of his blue-ribbon seat.”


“Captain GetUp, dressed in ­orange tights, will be launched in Manly and help Tony ­Abbott in his fight to retain the seat of Warringah ... Captain GetUp, who has a cape featuring the Greens’ and Labor’s logos, will hand out anti-GetUp leaflets and read out a script when he speaks to voters.”


“If you missed the whole electric car debacle, the government has managed to perform a pretty stunning backflip on electric vehicles. After months and months of actively supporting (and funding) the switch to electric cars, in the past week Scott Morrison and co have instead started claiming that Labor’s support for electric vehicles will destroy the weekend as we know it.”

Your chance to win a double pass to Palace Films' 'Burning'

The Saturday Paper invites readers to enter the draw for a chance to win a double pass to Palace Films’ Burning, the new thriller by South Korean director Lee Chang-Dong, along with a copy of Haruki Murakami’s book The Elephant Vanishes, a collection that includes the story on which the film is based. The film is in cinemas from April 18.

Entries close at 11:59pm AEDT on Thursday, April 11, and the winner will be notified on Friday, April 12. 

Alex McKinnon is Schwartz Media's morning editor.