Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Notre Dame cathedral burns

Notre Dame cathedral in Paris has been almost completely destroyed by a devastating fire. The blaze, which began early Monday evening local time, spread across the roof to one of the building’s four rectangular towers, causing its iconic spire to collapse. Speaking to French media, Notre Dame spokesperson André Finot said “everything is burning. The framework, which dates from the 19th century on one side and the 13th century on the other, there will be nothing left”. Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, Notre Dame is one of France’s most recognisable buildings, and has served as a backdrop to major events in world history such as the French Revolution, Napoleon’s coronation and the liberation of Paris in 1944.

Aboriginal rights activists have marked 28 years since the conclusion of the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody by calling on federal, state and territory governments to implement the commission’s 339 recommendations. In an open letter to Victorian premier Daniel Andrews signed by more than 80 community groups, the children of Aboriginal woman Tanya Day – who died in police custody in 2017 after being arrested for public drunkenness – urged the Victorian government to repeal the offence, as recommended by the commission in 1991. “It’s time to put an end to racially discriminatory laws and policies that result in Aboriginal people, like our mum, dying in police custody”, Day’s children said in the letter.

Dozens of journalists, editors and publishers have faced court in Melbourne on contempt charges relating to their coverage of disgraced cardinal George Pell’s conviction for child sexual abuse. Representatives of Nine, The Age, Macquarie Media and several News Corp titles appeared for a procedural hearing at the Supreme Court of Victoria on Monday. In February, Victorian director of public prosecutions Kerri Judd wrote to more than 100 journalists and media outlets, claiming they had potentially interfered with the course of justice by alluding to Pell’s December conviction and a suppression order barring them from reporting on the case. Media outlets and academics have criticised the restrictions around court reporting in Australia as outdated and ineffective, with international media reporting extensively on Pell’s trial and the gag order.

And the results of the New South Wales election have been finalised, with the last seats in the state’s Legislative Council decided after distribution of preferences. In the final preference count on Monday, the NSW Electoral Commission confirmed that Gladys Berejiklian’s Coalition government won eight of the 21 seats on offer in the upper house in this election cycle, with Labor winning seven, the Greens and One Nation two each, and the Animal Justice Party and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers winning one apiece. Former federal Liberal Democratic Party senator David Leyonhjelm, who quit federal politics to contest the state election, failed to obtain a seat, as did Christian Democratic Party politician Paul Green and the Keep Sydney Open party. The count leaves the state government with 17 seats in the 42-seat chamber, likely requiring support from right-wing minor parties to pass legislation in the upper house.



“Even if the Coalition squeaks a win against the odds this time, its electoral problems are likely to worsen into the future, because progressive political preference is moving up the age range. The old truism that people become more conservative as they get older is no longer so true.”


“In the time since I first read Remembering Babylon (as I embarked upon my own writing), David Malouf has become for me something of a paragon of praxis. I’ve never met the man, never seen him in person. (I’m trying to write this as though he were dead.) But there is an intimacy – an oft-occurring word in Malouf studies – between us. That the intimacy is one-way only makes it more dependable.”


“These days, at 60, Piggott frequents the public pool in Fitzroy, having moved her studio from Flinders Lane in the CBD to a space two floors above a cafe cluster in Brunswick Street, close to her home. It’s no use pressing the baroque doorbell at street level. She rejoiced the day it broke, dissuading people from dropping in and climbing the narrow wooden stairs for a chat.”


“Controversial businessman Clive Palmer has announced he will pay Queensland Nickel workers their unpaid entitlements, three years after his refinery was shuttered in Townsville. Palmer, whose United Australia Party is fielding candidates in next month’s federal election, has faced repeated criticism after Queensland Nickel went into liquidation in 2016, leaving hundreds of workers and taxpayers owed about $70 million.”


“Documents obtained by 7.30 under Right to Information raise serious safety and maintenance concerns about Clive Palmer’s Townsville nickel refinery, which he is promising to reopen ... It has led to former workers questioning whether the refinery can safely reopen, and one analyst predicting the cost to do so would be more than $100 million.”


“Traditionally, Green would only be reanimated once every three years for a federal election. But with the increase in pressure on ABCTV from the 24/7 news cycle and social media, the producers have been raising him from cyrosleep with increased regularity – including for state elections. With the federal election being called so soon after NSW’s, they were forced to reanimate only weeks after last putting him to sleep, pushing his support system into overdrive.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.