Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Inquiry into Pyne, Bishop jobs passes Senate

The Senate has voted in support of Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick’s motion to begin an inquiry into post-political jobs taken up by former cabinet ministers Christopher Pyne and Julie Bishop. The vote was won 35 to 29, with Labor, the Greens and the entire crossbench supporting the motion. The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet reviewed both appointments and yesterday advised Scott Morrison that no rules had been broken, but Patrick was dissatisfied with the response, pushing ahead with the motion. Pyne and Bishop came under fire recently for taking on roles that critics say violate the federal ministerial standards. 

A Department of Defence brief ($) has outlined Australia’s intentions to set up a Pacific Support Force, to increase naval presence and train regional neighbours Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Vanuatu, as part of the army’s 1st Division. The government document was obtained by The Australian under freedom of information laws and comes as China reduces its presence in the Pacific region. Defence minister Linda Reynolds said the intention of developing Australia’s presence was “to build a region that is strategically secure, economically stable and politically sovereign”. 

In the United Kingdom, a second minister has resigned ahead of the expected announcement of Boris Johnson as the new Prime Minister. The departure of junior foreign minister Sir Alan Duncan follows the decision of culture minister Margot James, who stepped down last week, in opposing the appointment of the soon-to-be-prime-minister over his “do or die” statement to leave the European Union with or without a deal this year. Chancellor of the exchequer, Phillip Hammond, has also expressed an intention to resign if Johnson becomes prime minister. Voting for the Conservative party leadership has now closed, and the new leader expected to be announced later today to then take office on Wednesday. 

Liberal MP Russell Broadbent has broken ranks to join Nationals MPs Barnaby Joyce and Matthew Canavan in calling for the Newstart payment to be increased. Another MP Andrew Wallace said he would support an increase if it was shown to be a roadblock to people entering the workforce. Broadbent said he was concerned the current payment could be increasing disadvantage for job seekers and questioned the effectiveness of privately operated Jobstart agencies. “It is hard at that level of income, especially in regional areas, to have enough money to get out and find a job,” he said. A government review found the Jobstart service, which costs $7.6 billion over five years, was too restrictive and led to people applying for unsuitable jobs to meet an expectation to apply for 20 jobs a month.

In swimming, Mack Horton has received a wave of support from Australian athletes for not taking the podium with his opponent Sun Yang during the medal ceremony at the swimming FINA World Championships in South Korea. However, FINA has sent Horton a warning letter over his conduct, saying the event should not be used for “personal statements or gestures”. Horton, who came second to Sun in the 400m final, refused to share the podium or be photographed with Sun, who he has repeatedly accused of being a drug cheat. Sun directly responded to Horton’s actions in a tweet saying the award ceremony was a “sacred time” for athletes representing their country and that no matter how he felt he should have stepped up onto the podium. “Disrespecting me was OK, but disrespecting China was unfortunate,” Sun said. Chinese press and Sun supporters on social media called Horton “poorly educated” and “rude”. The controversy overshadowed a spectacular win by fellow Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus, who beat out American champion Katie Ledecky in the women’s 400m title. Titmus is the first Australian to top the podium in the 400m since Tracey Wickham in 1978. Ledecky has also not been beaten on the international stage since 2012.

On Uluru
Despite hopes that were placed in Ken Wyatt as minister, Scott Morrison says there will be no constitutional enshrinement of an Indigenous Voice to parliament. Karen Middleton on the campaign to keep the Voice alive.


“Ahead of his National Press Club address last week, Wyatt was still not ruling out the idea, announcing he aimed to hold a referendum on constitutional recognition within the next three years ... But two days after Wyatt’s speech, The Australian reported that Morrison would indeed veto any move to enshrine an Indigenous voice in the constitution. That morning, Wyatt told Radio National’s Breakfast program, he was committed to constitutional recognition – but not enshrining a voice.”


“Many of the most dangerous coercive controllers use physical violence sparingly, or not at all. Their system of fear and control requires only the believable threat of violence – to the victim or her loved ones. Savvy perpetrators know to avoid physical violence because while ‘incidents’ of domestic violence are a crime, the system of coercive control is not.”


“Even if a pill test doesn’t detect dangerous substances such as PMA, they believe it is worthwhile for the opportunity it creates for a health professional to inform a young person about the risks of consuming drugs. And what to do if they, a friend or someone they see at the festival has an adverse reaction. John believes it could be ‘the last-minute intervention’ that might just prevent another tragedy.”


“Third-generation local Amy says she's tired of seeing Byron used as a commodity. ‘I think many people portray Byron on social and in advertising as living the dream, but the reality is it's hard to find work, a house to live in, traffic is an increasing issue, homelessness and mental health are on the rise and there is also a seedy underbelly,’ she says.”


“Every coastal community in Australia is doing its own mapping, but Noosa may take it a step further. The Noosa Shire is now considering how best to warn owners, both current and future, about the risk [of climate change]. Councillors say the estimated 2,232 Noosa properties likely to be affected by storm flooding in 80 years' time could be told directly via rates notices. Possible buyers may also be alerted through routine property or rates searches.”



“Given how easy it is to set up a critique of so many Disney villains being coded as queer, it’s similarly easy to understand why the company would try to move away from that legacy. In its remake of Aladdin, Jafar was made scrappy and, uh, very masc. In The Lion King, Scar is now angry in an incel sort of way.”


Anna Horan
is a Melbourne-based editor and writer.