Friday, June 07, 2019

AFP raids spark reform calls

Centre Alliance senators have called for protections for press freedom to be enshrined in the constitution following Australian Federal Police raids on media outlets. Speaking on Thursday, Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick said the use of anti-terror laws to target journalists that publish classified information was proof “the pendulum has swung too far”, and that constitutional protections “would put a brake on any future government efforts to suppress the freedom of the press or freedom of expression for all Australians”. AFP officers raided the ABC’s Sydney offices and the Canberra home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst this week, as part of investigations into stories that published classified government and defence documents.

The United Nations has called on the federal government to release a blind Tamil refugee who has been held in immigration detention for nine years. Kumar, a Sri Lankan refugee who was detained after arriving on Christmas Island by boat in March 2010, was found to be a refugee in December of that year but has remained in detention ever since. In a legal opinion, the UN working group on arbitrary detention urged the government to “immediately” release Kumar and “accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law”. Said Imasi, a Western Sahara man who has also been held in detention for more than nine years, unsuccessfully challenged Australia’s indefinite detention program in February.

Authorities in the northern New South Wales town of Walgett are considering how to deliver basic supplies to residents after the town’s only supermarket was destroyed by fire. The Walgett IGA was gutted on Wednesday, leaving residents without a source of food closer than Lightning Ridge, 80 kilometres away. Walgett has struggled in the ongoing drought, with the Barwon and Namoi rivers running dry and residents having to rely on treated bore water. Aboriginal activist group Fighting in Resistance Equally has started a fundraiser to buy essentials for Walgett locals, aiming to raise $30,000. Donate here.

And a road named after former governor-general Sir William Slim will be renamed by the Australian Capital Territory government after several people claimed they were sexually abused by Slim in the 1950s. Slim, who served as governor-general from 1952 to 1959, was accused of abusing young boys at Fairbridge Farm school in the central-west New South Wales town of Molong. Robert Stephens, a Canberra local and sexual abuse survivor, told the ABC the name change was “a long time coming and it's finally recognition of what happened to a number of those children, me included, that people have taken it seriously”.



“Although she is the creator of some of the past decade’s best pop songs, I rarely think of Carly Rae Jepsen, The Person, behind them. She seems to exist away from chart trends and the memes that propel her from singer-songwriter to queen of whatever Twitter decides to crown her on any given day. In this bubble, she’s listening to records and dating people she’s pined over for years, before going home to tear apart her every romantic insecurity over a hook so appealing you barely notice the sound of her heart shattering.”


“When I emerged from the theatre two hours later, it was with a baffled and wholly unexpected sense of disappointment. What had I just watched? Denis’ films are rarely linear or straightforward, yet this somehow managed to feel both customarily diffuse and surprisingly over-determined, its themes and imagery failing to cohere into a convincing whole.”


“Already, the race is on for the next election. Both a jubilant Scott Morrison and a perky Anthony Albanese are off and running. Morrison has set himself the task of winning a fourth term for the Coalition, while Albanese is determined to learn from the wreckage of the unloseable election and keep the focus as much as possible on the government.”


“Energy minister Angus Taylor has shrugged off official data showing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions have risen for a fourth year, saying the figures ignore the contribution of gas exports to lowering pollution overseas. In 2018 Australia’s emissions totalled 538.2 million tonnes of greenhouse gases. This was up 0.7 per cent on the previous year, the department of the environment and energy said in a report released on Thursday.”


“Fuel efficiency (CO₂ emission) standards have been adopted in around 80 per cent of the global light vehicle market to cap the growth of transport emissions. This includes the United States, the European Union, Canada, Japan, China, South Korea and India – but not Australia. If Australia had introduced internationally harmonised emissions legislation three years ago, households could have made savings on fuel costs to the tune of $1 billion.”


“With just a single cash machine on the mountain, the line can often stretch back for over 100 metres, with agitated climbers having to wait up to an hour to withdraw money. ‘It’s ridiculous’, experienced climber James McEwin told journalists. ‘The café at the top only accepts cash, but yet there’s only one ATM on the mountain.’”

Rates, raids and meeting the Queen
As Scott Morrison completes his first overseas trip since winning the election, there are worrying signs for the economy and for press freedom. Paul Bongiorno on interest rates, AFP raids and Kristina Keneally’s new responsibilities.

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.