Thursday, May 16, 2019

Palmer gags former workers

Former employees of Clive Palmer’s nickel refinery have been pressured to sign an agreement preventing them from making unflattering comments about the United Australia Party leader in order to receive their outstanding payments. Palmer owes about $7 million to more than 700 former Queensland Nickel workers, who lost their jobs when Palmer’s nickel refinery near Townsville closed in 2016. Despite promising to begin paying the money last month, Palmer’s lawyers are forcing former workers to sign a deed of release as a condition of being paid. The deed includes a pledge they “shall not make any disparaging comments in relation to … Clive Frederick Palmer and all related companies and entities”, and prohibits workers from taking legal action against him.

The election blackout period for political advertising has come into effect, prohibiting television and radio stations from running political ads in the last days before the federal election. Parties and candidates are still able to run ads in print newspapers and online outlets, drawing criticism from broadcasters that laws governing electoral advertising are outdated. Commercial networks will exploit a loophole to continue running ads on streaming services, meaning you thought you were finally free of United Australia Party ads but you will never be free of them, not truly. They will haunt you until you die, and possibly after. Meanwhile, the Australian Electoral Commission has rebuked the federal Liberal Party for failing to authorise ads on several websites.

Aboriginal legal services and medical bodies have urged the Queensland state government to change the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 following revelations of widespread mistreatment of juvenile detainees in police watch houses. Royal Australasian College of Physicians spokesperson Mick Creati told NITV that “until we see proper recognition of the fact that children under the age of 14 have less capacity than adults to process information, plan, recognise the consequence of their actions and minimal impulse control, we'll continue to see very unjust and cruel outcomes”. Following a report on Monday about children as young as 10 being held in adult watch houses, the ABC’s Four Corners revealed on Tuesday that senior staff in Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s office were repeatedly warned about incidents of children being placed in watch houses rather than juvenile detention, including the case of a pregnant 16-year-old girl.

And opposition leader Bill Shorten has floated the idea of appointing former foreign minister Julie Bishop to a senior diplomatic post if Labor wins government. Speaking at an event in Perth on Wednesday, Shorten said Bishop was “a good person and we can't waste talent, and that “we've got to be better about our former politicians than pushing them on the scrap heap”. Labor and the Coalition have campaigned heavily in Western Australia, where the government holds five marginal seats.



“The Nationals find themselves trying to straddle a variety of demographics. The once-safe Nationals seat of Richmond on the NSW north coast, for example, now has large numbers of environmentalists and alternative lifestylers. It will be fought out between Labor and the Greens. Other traditional Nationals electorates are filling up with sea-change retirees from the cities.”


“Ultimately there’s no real basis for the belief that the Liberal Party is better at ‘managing the economy’ than Labor is. It’s frustrating, then, to see Morrison allowed by Australia’s political journalists to repeat the claim without being seriously questioned over it, particularly given his government’s lack of policies in key areas.”


“If Father of the Bride were simply an exercise in retaining the band’s core identity after the loss of a key member, it’d be a marked success. But you can hear them stretching themselves more than ever here; often, the record feels like an experiment in how strange they can make their music before it becomes unrecognisable.”


“A senator for Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party says the businessman will spend $60 million on the election campaign ... Dr Andrew Hughes, a political marketing researcher at ANU, said he would expect the figure to be closer to the $50 million mark. But even that lower amount would be well over the combined expected spend of both the major political parties, which he estimated to have been about $30 million in 2016.”


“The United Australia Party’s entire policy platform is about the length of a long text message, yet its leader Clive Palmer is spending tens of millions of dollars to get your vote. They have 177 words on the ‘National Policy’ section of their website.”



“Voting in the Senate: Australia’s senate system is a straightforward, democratic process whereby you simply put a 1 in the box next to your preferred major party, in order to elect a former taxi-driver from Narre Warren who is now the leader of the ‘Toyota Corolla Enthusiasts Party’.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.