Friday, August 02, 2019

Whistle blown on NAB relationship with auditors

Documents leaked to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age reveal that while Australia’s banks faced scrutiny at the royal commission into banking, National Australia Bank chairman Ken Henry privately confided to auditors that the bank was ripping off its customers and would eventually trigger compensation. Dr Henry and dozens of other executives last year told NAB’s auditor EY about serious shortcomings in risk management, yet the auditor did not include these details and other points of concern in its draft report. Labor MP Deborah O'Neill responded to the revelations by calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the relationship between the big banks and the nation’s largest accounting firms.

Queensland Liberal National MP George Christensen billed taxpayers $1600 for a trip to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef to meet controversial far-right YouTuber Lauren Southern, only to be stood up by the far-right Canadian. MP financial interest disclosures reveal Christensen accepted a “reef trip from Cairns to Great Barrier Reef” from Axiomatic Events, an organiser of right-wing events. Southern is known for stunts such as obstructing a charity vessel attempting to rescue migrants from drowning in the Mediterranean. Axiomatic Events director Dave Pellowe told Guardian Australia Christensen was “there and available but [Southern] pulled the pin. Well, she missed the communication. He wasn’t collaborating with the tour but he was going to be available if she had questions about the reef and tourism.”

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham will today deliver a speech to a Chinese think tank in Beijing, urging the country to help rewrite trade rules that give it special “developing nation” status. US President Donald Trump has announced another round of tariffs on $US300 billion in Chinese goods from September. This represents almost all of the remaining products the US has yet to place tariffs on, such as clothing and iPhones, effectively signalling the end of free trade between the two rival powers.

A key nuclear arms treaty is due to expire today, with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warning the world is set to “lose an invaluable brake on nuclear war”. Unless Russia destroys a new medium-range missile, the United States will pull out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty in order to develop its own equivalents. The treaty saw the destruction of 2700 medium-range nuclear missiles, weapons that would have given targeted countries only a few minutes warning of an impending strike. The governments of US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are both undertaking aggressive nuclear weapon modernisation programs, with the US developing a nuclear missile to be mounted on a mobile launcher. The treaty expiry coincides with another missile launch by North Korea — its third round of missile tests in the space of a week. 

In cricket, Steve Smith has rescued Australia from a disastrous start to day one of the first men’s Ashes test. On his return to test cricket after being suspended in March last year for his role in the ball-tampering scandal, Smith helped Australia recover from 8-122 to post a first innings total of 284. England survived two overs before the close of play to finish with 10 runs for no loss of wicket. 

Betting against integrity
Amid claims of misconduct against Crown Casino, Labor and the Coalition voted down a parliamentary inquiry into the affair.


“Scott Morrison, who famously shrank the Liberal Party to near-invisibility to win the May election, was this week confronted by his party’s reappearance, and he doesn’t much like it. In just the second government party room meeting since polling day, Morrison read the riot act to backbenchers for unhelpfully freelancing in the media.”


“Why aren’t there more Islander captains and coaches? Rugby people tell you that Islanders are shy, naturally quiet. Until the rugby player with the highest profile and the most valuable gifts in Australia, a reticent young man from a Tongan-­Australian Christian family, decided not to be quiet any more, and all hell broke loose.”


“Hypocrisy is pretending you have a target of zero suicides while your government defunds programs to help queer youth and mocks the reality of gender nonconforming children. It is continuing with a program such as robo-debt, when the falsified recoveries target vulnerable people. It is refusing to raise Newstart, leaving a welfare payment to become a form of punishment.” Lifeline 13 11 14


Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has weighed in on the NSW abortion debate, saying state MPs pushing for a bill to decriminalise abortion would have considered his infant son ‘subhuman’. The Member for New England and his former media advisor, Vikki Campion, had their second child on June 1. On Thursday in Federal Parliament, Mr Joyce invoked his son's name to attack NSW politicians sponsoring a bill to decriminalise abortion.”



“Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce says Australia's parliament is powerless to reduce the effects of climate change, predicting the population will be wiped out by an ice age anyway. Inspired by an opinion piece by New Zealand geologist David Shelley, who believes the planet is heading towards an ice age, Mr Joyce took to Facebook to attack the campaign for action on climate change as pointless”



“This week, children in the U.S. and Mexico had the chance to play together— despite the barriers that exist between them—after two California professors built a set of seesaws through a border fence. In a video posted to Instagram by Ronald Rael, the University of California architecture professor who came up with the seesaw project alongside San Jose State design associate professor Virginia San Fratello, children can be seen on either side of the U.S.-Mexico border playing together on three bright pink seesaws built between Ciudad Juárez in Mexico's Chihuahua State and El Paso, Texas.”


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