Monday, June 03, 2019

Albanese unveils shadow frontbench

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has named federal Labor’s new frontbench team. Former leader Bill Shorten will take up the National Disability Insurance Scheme portfolio, while senator Kristina Keneally will become Labor’s first shadow home affairs minister. Former shadow treasurer Chris Bowen will become shadow health minister, Katy Gallagher will take the shadow finance position, and Queensland MP Jim Chalmers will move to the shadow treasury. The new shadow cabinet will embark on a “listening tour” before parliament resumes on July 2, aiming to hear from voters who handed the federal Coalition an unexpected victory at the election in May.

Prime minister Scott Morrison has announced $250 million in foreign aid would be reallocated to build infrastructure in the Solomon Islands. Morrison will meet Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare today in his first overseas trip since the election, promising a $3 million loan program to assist Solomon Islands temporary workers enter labour hire schemes. Church of Melanesia mission secretary, Father Nigel Kelaepa, told SBS locals were concerned about Australia’s inaction on climate change, saying “countries in the region who look up to Australia as a big brother would like Australia to lead our battle against the effects of climate”.

Local councils in Sydney are considering phasing out the use of the weedkiller Roundup, following a series of high-profile lawsuits brought against manufacturer Monsanto in the United States. Last month, a couple in California were awarded more than US$2 billion in damages after a jury agreed Roundup had likely contributed to their contracting non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Sydney’s Fairfield Council has already stopped using the weedkiller, while the Georges River council is in the process of phasing it out. While the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority maintains that Roundup and other weedkillers containing glyphosate “can continue to be used safely according to label directions”, two Australian law firms are considering class actions against chemical giant Bayer, which acquired Monsanto last year.

And in the United Kingdom, London mayor Sadiq Khan has hit out at United States president Donald Trump ahead of his state visit. Writing in The Observer, Khan criticised the UK government “rolling out the red carpet” for Trump’s visit, saying Trump “has given comfort to far-right political leaders” and that his policies could be compared to “the actions of European dictators of the 1930s and ’40s”. Trump will be hosted by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace when he arrives in London today, and will meet with prime minister Theresa May on Tuesday.



“The man now tasked with pulling Labor back together after a devastating defeat also believes some Queenslanders had unfinished business with his party. Albanese does not dismiss there is still residual anger in the Sunshine State towards those in the Labor Party who overthrew Kevin Rudd, Australia’s first Queensland prime minister since the 1940s and only the fourth from that state.”


“How did it happen? How did every pollster in the country spend a year calling a swing to Labor, when in the election there was a swing away? The only person I know who really saw it coming was my boss, Ben Oquist. I’ll explain how he knew shortly, but beforehand, a confession. I was completely wrong. In fact I was so convinced Labor would win that, well before the election, I pitched the idea of writing an essay for The Monthly on how Bill Shorten won.”


“The medivac legislation was passed just over three months ago. It has been life-changing. More than 40 critically ill refugees have been brought to Australia from Nauru and Manus for medical care. MERG receives 11 to 12 applications for medical transfers every day. We are completing an average of 8.2 medical triages each day, which shows the scale of medical need.”


“Vegan activists who invade farms and slaughterhouses to stage political protests must face tougher criminal penalties, the federal Attorney-General has told his state counterparts ... Porter said the increase in demonstrations, which comes after the publication online by Aussie Farms of a map detailing Australian farms and abattoirs, showed the laws needed to change to respond to the activists’ actions.”


“Animal activists who brought central Melbourne to a standstill recently have vowed to step up their campaign of civil disobedience and raids on abattoirs and farms. Volunteers promoting the anti-farming documentary Dominion say they will also risk big fines and possible jail terms for privacy and trespass offences.”



“Everyone about to board this large commercial plane with an excellent safety record appears to be very calm. In disaster movies, very calm people are extremely mistaken; the lone voice of concern or agitated drifter is wrongly dismissed as a kook. Because I live my life as if I were being filmed for a secret audience that is always judging me, I know that I would most resemble Robert Redford in Three Days of the Condor.”

Albanese speaking
Anthony Albanese has been elected unopposed to lead the Labor Party. He sat down with his biographer, Karen Middleton, to talk about what just happened and what guides his thinking on key policies.

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.