Monday, May 06, 2019

Shorten pitches Labor faithful

Opposition leader Bill Shorten has laid out his pitch to voters at Labor’s formal campaign launch ahead of the federal election. Speaking at the launch in Brisbane on Sunday, Shorten pledged $500 million to cut waiting times at hospital emergency departments, tax cuts for small businesses to employ more younger and older workers, and a crackdown on tax loopholes benefiting multinational corporations. Labor senator for Western Australia and Yawuru man, Pat Dodson, told the crowd at the launch a Labor government would legislate for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament and “reset” the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia, saying “we want to be the party of choice for First Nations peoples”.

Staff at a Papua New Guinea healthcare provider contracted to help refugees and asylum seekers held on Manus Island resettle in the community claim they were instructed to falsify records for an Australian government audit. Former employees of Paradise Health Solutions, which was subcontracted to fulfil a $44 million federal government contract to support and house asylum seekers in PNG, have alleged they “were directed to 'cook the books'” to suggest the company was meeting government requirements, including by writing and updating support plans that refugees had no knowledge of. Australia’s $1 billion annual spend on services for offshore refugees has come under scrutiny in recent months, including a $423 million contract with a company to provide security services on Manus Island.

A senior adviser in the office of aged care minister Ken Wyatt was the subject of a confidential inquiry after staff raised allegations of bullying and a culture of intimidation. The investigation was ordered by then prime ministerial chief of staff Clive Mathieson last year. Transcripts of interviews with witnesses seen by Nine newspapers detail allegations against adviser Paula Gelo, who coworkers claimed would scream “abusive, insulting and offensive comments”, control access to Wyatt and foster a culture of intimidation. The inquiry heard that Gelo claimed to have “a very special relationship with the minister”, and that Wyatt “enabled” her behaviour by allowing it to continue unchecked. In a statement, Wyatt‘s office defended the confidential status of the report, saying “reports on staffing issues are not published to protect the privacy of the staff involved”.

And former rugby league player and LGBTI rights activist Ian Roberts has weighed in on the Israel Folau controversy as the rugby union star challenges his dismissal over homophobic comments. Speaking on Channel Nine’s Wide World of Sports on Sunday, Roberts said remarks like Folau’s “can and do push people over the edge”, and that “there are literally kids in the suburbs killing themselves”. In a code of conduct hearing at Rugby Australia headquarters in Sydney on Sunday, lawyers representing Folau argued that his comments on Instagram claiming LGBTI people would go to hell were not his words, as they were quotations from the Bible.


“Palmer may lack credible candidates or policy, but he does have one thing in abundance – cash. Independent tracking suggests he spent $30 million on advertising between last September and mid-April. Palmer himself says the figure now is up to $50 million. The final figure may be tens of millions higher.”


“There is still a legitimate debate between the parties over how to balance tax policy with expenditure, and how to encourage effort and enterprise while supporting all people to develop their potential and live satisfying lives. But there is not much force left in attacks on Labor as the specialist party of self-interest, when ambition and self-interest has been so blatantly on display in the Liberal Party over the past few years.”


“He was, in some senses, Australia’s Walt Whitman, engaged in a naming project, a vast Show and Tell. We see more things for the first time, and see more familiar things renewed, in his poetry than in the work of any other poet or painter or writer I can think of. Poetry is a special kind of thinking, or a bridge across the tiny gap between think and say; it inserts its connections into that small space between the thought and the word.”


“The treasurer Josh Frydenberg has sought to distance the Liberals from ‘extremist’ views, saying dumped candidates who have expressed antisemitic and homophobic comments have ‘no place’ in the party. The remarks come after posters of Frydenberg – a practicing Jew – were defaced with Nazi symbols throughout his electorate of Kooyong, and as the party reels from the loss of several candidates for offensive social media comments.”


“Far-right figurehead Neil Erikson claimed his flights were paid for so he could attend an alleged ‘secret’ Liberal National Party recruitment meeting last year, as his relationship with the Coalition comes under scrutiny. Erikson – a former member of the United Patriots Front, who was convicted for inciting contempt against Muslims in an anti-mosque protest – said he ‘colluded with the Liberal Party’ and claimed he was asked to help members attract conservatives to the movement.”


“Ever since Twitter user @chanbanhi tweeted their edit of a comically small Shrek sprinting through a dog obstacle course on Thursday, my thoughts have been consumed with Tiny Shrek. I go through the daily motions of life — I eat, I sleep, I water my house plants, but at the end of the day, the only thing I can think about is this Tiny Shrek.”

Your chance to win a double pass to Acute Misfortune

The Saturday Paper invites readers to enter the draw for the chance to win a double pass to special event screenings, in selected cities nationally, of Acute Misfortune.

Acute Misfortune is the award-winning film adaptation of Erik Jensen’s biography of artist Adam Cullen. Acute Misfortune is not a traditional film biography of an artist, but a questioning of that biography and of the circumstances that led to its writing. It is a closely researched film that reveals an iconic artist and an acclaimed journalist in unsparing detail. It is a film about theft and the commerce of theft, the instability of lies and the consequences of a flawed contract; and about coming through a relationship to find meaning in its wake.

Special event screenings will take place nationally from May 9 to May 26. Entries close at noon AEST on Tuesday, May 7.

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.