Thursday, May 09, 2019

Daily Telegraph hit job backfires

Opposition leader Bill Shorten has hit out at Sydney’s Daily Telegraph for suggesting he misrepresented his mother’s life story. During an episode of the ABC’s Q&A on Monday, Shorten recounted his mother Ann’s struggle to raise children, putting off her desire to study law and take the bar. In a front-page article on Thursday, the Telegraph falsely claimed ($) Shorten had deliberately omitted that his mother eventually became a barrister. The article prompted anger on social media, with Twitter users sharing their own mothers’ stories under the #MyMum hashtag. At a press conference, Shorten called the article “a new low”, saying “I’m glad she wasn’t here today to read that rubbish”. “She had wanted to do law when she was 17, she didn’t get that chance, she raised kids, and at 50, she backed herself,” Shorten said. “I can’t change what happened to my mum, but I can change things for other people, and that’s why I’m in politics.”

Former Nauruan president Sprent Dabwido has died of cancer, aged 46. Dabwido, who agreed with then Australian prime minister Julia Gillard to reopen Manus Island’s detention centre in 2012, fled Nauru in 2015 after accusing his successor of corruption and authoritarianism. Diagnosed with terminal cancer last year, Dabwido spent the last months of his life publicly refuting offshore processing, saying in a March interview “it is hurting Nauru as much as it is hurting Australia” and that “every death on my island by an asylum seeker is a regret”.

A fleet of 72 fighter jets ordered by the federal government for $17 billion is at risk of rusting if not stored in an area with constant dehumidification. An audit of the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter jets by consulting firm KPMG, obtained under Freedom of Information laws by the ABC, found that the aluminium alloy used in the jets’ construction was susceptible to corrosion if stored for long periods near the sea, which seems to be a problem if you plan to fly them over an island nation, but what do I know. The development of the F-35 – the most expensive defence project in military history – has been plagued by performance problems, including “unacceptable” inaccuracy when firing missiles at ground targets, cyber security vulnerabilities in the aircraft’s software, and reports of pilots blacking out. A Japanese F-35A crashed last month after 28 minutes of flight time, prompting Japan to ground the rest of its F-35 fleet.

The federal Liberal Party has declined to endorse a candidate who compared same-sex families to paedophilia. Gurpal Singh, the Liberal candidate for the Melbourne seat of Scullin and a “No” campaigner ahead of the same-sex marriage postal vote, told SBS Radio in 2017 that he saw gay adoption and surrogacy as “an issue of paedophilia”, saying “the occurrence can be high” in such families. When questioned on Singh’s candidacy on Wednesday, prime minister Scott Morrison said that “the party organisation had dealt with it” and Singh’s “candidacy has continued”.

And the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has rejected a proposed $15 billion merger between telecommunications firms Vodafone and TPG, citing the concentration of Australia’s mobile and fixed broadband services markets. In a statement, the ACCC said the ruling had been “inadvertently published online” on Wednesday during trading hours, rather than after close of trading on Thursday as scheduled. ACCC chair Rod Sims said “market structures should be settled by the competitive process, not by a merger which results in a market structure that would be subject to little challenge in the future”. The news prompted a 9 per cent drop in TPG’s share price.



“From both Labor and Coalition camps, new opinion leaders are emerging to play an active role in debating and interpreting the policy statements of politicians and their parties. These opinion leaders, often well read in both Chinese and English, post news stories, op-eds and tweets from English-language media outlets, sometimes with a précis of the content in Chinese. This is how the political chatter from the mainstream public usually makes its way into WeChat.”


“If I believe the accusations of child sexual abuse levelled against Michael Jackson in Leaving Neverland, a two-part, four-hour documentary that premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival and screened on television globally in March – and, in the film, Jackson’s two now adult accusers, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, make credible, detailed and independent allegations of abuse that appear to corroborate each other, so, yes, I do believe them – what then?”


“A sure sign of Morrison’s desperation in the election was his willingness to sign off on a preference-swap deal with eccentric billionaire Clive Palmer and his United Australia Party. The Liberal–UAP deal specifically preferences the UAP no matter where its candidates are on the ballot paper and will make it that much easier for Palmer to win a senate seat in Queensland.”


“Tony Abbott has bet me $100 that in 10 years’ time the climate will not have changed. When I found myself in a Manly coffee shop last week being offered the bet, I was incredulous. Abbott was smiling, charmingly dismissive. This person with the power to help steer the world away from anthropogenic disaster wasn’t having a bar of my concerns about climate change. He wasn’t going to help; he was going to wield his status and wealth to show how confident he was in his position of not doing anything.”


“The United Nations’ former climate change czar has intervened in the Australian election, publicly backing four female independent candidates and calling out ‘appalling inaction in Canberra’ on climate change. Christiana Figueres led the UN's global negotiating process that culminated in the 2015 Paris climate change agreement, and is now a climate leader at the World Bank. She has thrown her support behind Zali Steggall, who is standing against former prime minister Tony Abbott in the NSW seat of Warringah.”



“Absolutely nothing else about the show’s dialogue or stage direction is different. The only change is that you, the viewer, now know Frasier is a centaur – son of Nephele and Ixion, born of shapeshifting and trickery, torn between two natures, lustful, ox-horned, enemy of the Lapiths, a bride-thief, both chariot and charioteer, a carouser, a lettered delinquent, a leering Dionysian, foster-father to Achilles, bestial, learned, shirtless, a wine-drunk sage, the most civilized of the barbarians and the most barbaric citizen.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.