Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Pell turns to High Court

Cardinal George Pell is attempting to make one final appeal to overturn his child sex abuse convictions to the High Court of Australia. The 78-year-old’s lawyers lodged an application on Tuesday for special leave to appeal his convictions. If granted, the case is not expected to be heard until next year. He is serving a six-year prison term for the sexual assault of two former choirboys in the 1990s. One of the victims has since died. In a statement, lawyers representing the father of the victim on Tuesday said: “Every time Pell takes his legal fight to the next level our client is reminded of the disgusting abuse he inflicted on his son as a young choirboy.” The application comes as The Age reports how Corpus Christi, the seminary where Pell trained, served as a breeding ground for paedophile rings. 

Great Barrier Reef run-off: Marine conservationists have warned that a Liberal-backed inquiry into whether farming and poor water quality harm the Great Barrier Reef will be used to attack the state Labor government. The inquiry is to report back in October 2020, the same month as the Queensland state election. The launch of the inquiry comes as the Queensland Parliament debates a bill proposing measures to reduce run-off flowing into the world's biggest coral reef. The Labor state government on Tuesday agreed to set conditions ensuring no further changes to fertiliser and sediment dumping regulations in the Great Barrier Reef for five years, once the restrictions come into force. The story comes as Guardian Australia reveals that treasurer Josh Frydenberg rejected wind turbines on Lord Howe Island when he was environmental minister, against the advice of his departmental experts.

Menstrual blood ad complaints: Advertising regulator Ad Standards has ruled that a commercial showing menstrual blood for the first time on Australian TV did not breach the industry's code of ethics. More than 600 objections were lodged, with one describing the ad as “disgusting”. Dr Elizabeth Farrell, medical director of women's healthcare service Jean Hailles, told the ABC that shaming women for menstruating is “absolutely ridiculous”. 

US sues Snowden: The United States Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit on Tuesday against whistleblower Edward Snowden to recover all proceeds of his recently released memoir Permanent Record. The lawsuit alleges that Snowden published the book without submitting it to the CIA or NSA for pre-publication review, a required practice among former employees of intelligence agencies. Snowden has been living in Russia for six years, after being granted asylum there following his leak of confidential files on US mass surveillance.

UK PM faces court challenge: The United Kingdom’s Supreme Court began hearings on Tuesday into British prime minister Boris Johnson's five-week suspension of the UK Parliament. Johnson has been accused of misleading the Queen over his proroguing of parliament, which he says was to pave the way for a Queen's Speech on October 14, but which critics claim was  to deny MPs the opportunity to interfere in his Brexit plans. Legal experts say the case could have implications for Australia, where suspension of parliament powers have been used tactically by state governments, including NSW in 2010.

Return to Timor-Leste
Twenty years after Timor-Leste’s vote for independence, the country’s relationship with Australia remains fraught. John Martinkus on what happened after the ballot and what is happening now.


“Many participants in the cashless welfare trials find themselves locked out of the second-hand economy because they have access to only 20 per cent of their social security payments in cash. This amounts to $111 a fortnight for a single person on the dole. Saving up for even the most mechanically dubious car to drive to work would take years – assuming nothing else went wrong financially. And, of course, one of the defining traits of being perpetually skint is that things always do. Debts spiral. The smallest of unexpected bills can signal disaster.” 


“On the flight from Manus to Port Moresby, I was worried about my safety and future. Alongside the stress, though, there was some happiness in knowing I was going to meet my fellow detainees who had been transported from Manus to Port Moresby before me. We have grown very close to each other, these men and I; we have looked after each other for years. It has been this brotherhood that allowed us to survive all the hardships and dangers of indefinite detention on Manus Island. Our solidarity made us stronger and lifted our morale and will to survive circumstances that have destroyed both our mental and physical health.”


“Over time, proscriptive access laws have gradually been relaxed to allow single women and lesbian couples to have access to IVF, and expectations of conceiving a family have grown exponentially. But does our culture overprize parenting, and motherhood in particular? It’s a fair question explored engagingly by three women – an actor, a writer and a director – who come together to interrogate the human drive to biologically replicate, with the help of scientists whose noble intentions are enmeshed with capitalism.”


“The Federal Government will launch an inquiry into the family law system, after accusations the court system is failing vulnerable Australians. Coalition backbenchers and the crossbench, including One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, have been calling for an inquiry for some time, arguing the system is too expensive and slow.”


“The Liberal MP once dubbed the minister for love, who believes de facto couples are more ‘unstable’, has been hand-picked by Scott Morrison to run a new inquiry into the nation’s family law court system. The Prime Minister announced the inquiry on Tuesday, telling MPs that former Liberal frontbencher Kevin Andrews, 63, will run the hearings. A social conservative, Mr Andrews has enjoyed a 40-year marriage to wife Margaret, and often preached the benefits of regular marriage counselling.”


“Researchers have calculated the going rate for thoughts and prayers offered in hard times. Rather than settling on one price for all, the study found the value of a compassionate gesture depended overwhelmingly on a person’s beliefs. While Christian participants were willing to part with money to receive thoughts and prayers from others, the idea made nonbelievers baulk. Instead of shelling out to receive the gestures, on average they were willing to pay to avoid them.”


Max Opray
is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.