Friday, August 30, 2019

Morrison to agree maritime boundary with Timor-Leste

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will today visit Timor-Leste to sign an oil and gas deal on the 20th anniversary of the young country’s vote for independence. Morrison, the first Australian prime minister to visit the regional neighbour in nearly 12 years, will take part in the celebrations to mark the the vote, which led to independence from Indonesia secured with the help of Australian peacekeeping forces. He will also meet with his Timor-Leste counterpart Taur Matan Ruak in Dili, where the two will settle the long-disputed maritime boundary between the nations. The deal is expected to secure 70 per cent of the revenue from development of the Greater Sunrise oil and gas field for Timor-Leste. Morrison will also announce funding for a subsea fibre-optic cable and construction of a naval facility. The boundary has been a major point of contention, with Australian lawyer Bernard Collaery and former spy Witness K facing potential jail time for revealing that the Australian Secret Intelligence Service planted listening devices in Timor-Leste government offices to gain an upper hand in negotiations over Greater Sunrise. The lawyer for Witness K is struggling to obtain legal aid for the case. Timor-Leste’s former prime minister Jose Ramos-Horta has said Australia "should get over it" and drop the charges.

Speaking of legal showdowns: A Tamil asylum seeker family being deported from Australia by plane has touched down in Darwin after a Melbourne judge granted a last-minute injunction to block the move. On Thursday, Priya, her husband Nadesalingam and their two Australian-born children were on their way back to Sri Lanka, where they fear being persecuted over past family links to the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The plane reportedly landed in Darwin just before 3am on Friday. A hearing is listed for 10am at the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne. The aborted deportation follows another case against the Department of Home Affairs in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to investigate whether to overturn a decision by the Department of Home Affairs to deny a visa to a three-year-old boy with disabilities. Kayban Jamshaad was born in a Western Australian hospital in July 2016 and diagnosed with severe haemophilia and a brain injury, for which he was denied a temporary visa on the basis that his medical needs would cost Australian taxpayers. The tribunal will decide whether the matter is reviewable within seven days.

That’s not the only matter under review: A draft package of religious freedom bills released on Thursday has provoked resistance from both LGBT activists and religious leaders. The former warn the proposed laws could serve as a “Trojan horse for hate” that give religious people superior rights, while the latter feel they haven’t been properly consulted ($) and are unclear on how the laws would impact workplaces and corporations who sack employees for expressing religious views.

On the subject of conservative sensibilities: Prime Minister Scott Morrison has promised in a radio interview to “sort out” a gender-inclusive sign on the door of a toilet in his department, describing it as “over the top” and “political correctness” in response to a photograph tweeted by Channel 9’s political editor Chris Uhlmann. The sign reads: “Please use the bathroom that best fits your gender identity.” Labor leader Anthony Albanese responded: “The PM doesn’t have a plan to deal with cost of living going up, living standards going down and wages going nowhere – but he has a plan to deal with this bathroom sign in an office building.”

Timor bug, China spy
While Australia remains belligerent over the Witness K case, Canberra is standing up to Beijing over the imprisonment of Yang Hengjun.


“Since the Howard years, the APS has been drastically scaled back – gutted or streamlined, depending on whom you’re talking to – last year shrinking to the smallest it has been since 2007. Some departments now have to beg for money in cabinet submissions – in at least one case, $1.3 million – just to have lawyers evaluate the parameters of a new proposal. ‘That’s when the consultants and contractors come in and they swarm everywhere,’ the former Turnbull government adviser says. If there is one thing that ordinary Australians reflexively distrust, it’s a consultant.”


“The second and greater revelation of the film is to watch Franklin’s face as she thinks her way, moment by moment, note by note, through the songs. Her focus is scorching and its effect upon those present is something like awful, in the old way: wonder combines with devastation. She makes Cleveland break down and sob in the middle of ‘Amazing Grace’ – he has to leave his seat at the piano. She brings her gospel elders Clara and Gertrude Ward, who both attended on the second night, near to delirium during her performance of ‘Never Grow Old’, as she seizes at and then wrestles with the song like Jacob going face-to-face with the angel.”


“‘I was only four, but I remember that hurricane. Grandma actually tied me to this small coconut tree with a lavalava [sarong] … It was all about timing. My grandma tied me to the coconut tree, waiting for the big waves to go. Once the big wave came from the ocean, it would come past our house, into the lagoon and round to the outer islands. She waited until the big wave passed to untie me. And then we ran for our lives.’”


“Nuclear power was the most capital-intensive energy technology and took the longest to recoup investment. Unlike with solar and wind energy, there did not appear to be economies of scale – the cost of nuclear electricity grew as technology advanced. Switkowski said as far he was aware, no coherent business case to finance an Australian industry had been presented. Any business case would require significant government support.”


“Australian governments will give $4.4bn in effective subsidies to Adani’s Carmichael coal project, which would otherwise be ‘unbankable and unviable’, a new analysis has found. The report, by the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, concluded that the project would benefit from several Australian taxpayer-funded arrangements – including subsidies, favourable deals and tax concessions – over its 30-year project life.”


“To Young, this is about much more than a TV show: ‘Entertainment is food for the human soul and Netflix’s algorithm isn’t measuring that right now. And by not taking physical food, I’m saying that this show is more important food to me than actual food.’ While keeping physical post outside Netflix’s offices ... she linked her protest to broader societal ills. ‘While it looks like I’m protesting a TV cancellation on the surface, I am protesting the capitalist forces that killed the show, general lack of societal support resources, and to raise awareness about properly teaching AI,’ she tweeted.”


Quiz Night - September 20
State Library of NSW, Sydney

Love the weekly ritual of The Saturday Paper Quiz? Now trivia fans can come together for a grand night of quizzing in partnership with the State Library of New South Wales, Sydney.

Participants will enjoy a three-course meal designed by Annie Smithers and drinks will be available to purchase from A Wine Service bar, curated by Blackhearts & Sparrows. Plus, there are great prizes to be won.

Stay tuned for future Quiz Night events around the country.

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