Thursday, September 19, 2019

Dutton bids for power to revoke citizenship

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton would have the exclusive right to strip citizenship from dual nationals, under legislation to be introduced to parliament today. The Australian ($) reports the laws would allow Dutton to revoke citizenship for persons believed to have engaged in terrorist activity, based on intelligence advice and an assessment of conduct. Dual nationals can currently lose citizenship based on the recommendations of the Citizenship Loss Board. The legislation would push the backdating of the powers to cover terrorism offences committed since 2003, from the current limit of 2005, and is applicable to anyone convicted and sentenced to three years or more, down from the current limit of six years. The legislation also covers those understood to have been engaged in terror-related conduct, but without convictions. In a report tabled in parliament on Wednesday, the independent monitor of national security legislation James Renwick highlighted the case of children who were “pressed into [the] service” of Islamic State, as an example of how current citizenship revocation laws breach the international convention on the rights of the child. Earlier this week ASIO warned that stripping citizenship “may impede criminal prosecutions” because it removes the jurisdiction of Australian courts.

Medicare inadequate for mental health: According to the The Sydney Morning Herald, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners health of the nation report found that 65 per cent of GPs say psychological problems are one of the three most-common ailments they grapple with. To be launched in parliament today, the report found mental health ranked highest, with musculoskeletal and respiratory problems sitting second and third, at 40 per cent and 39 per cent respectively. The report indicated Medicare was not catering to complex mental health needs. “If you have a depressed patient thinking of suicide, we need more than 20 minutes but there is no rebate for a 40-minute mental health consultation,” college president Dr Harry Nespolon said. Lifeline 13 14 11.

UK-Australia trade deal: On Wednesday, British Trade Secretary Liz Truss told reporters in Canberra that the UK Government expected to complete a major trade deal with Australia within months of exiting the European Union. She added the UK would look at a freedom of movement deal between the two countries, although Australia has downplayed such an outcome. Building trade with Australia has been pushed as a way to soften the blow of a no-deal Brexit. The visit comes as UK prime minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament is before the courts, with critics claiming he did so to stop the prevention of a no-deal outcome. Aidan O’Neill, the lawyer for those challenging the suspension, said “the Mother of Parliaments” had been “shut down by the father of lies”. 

Saudi Arabia drone attack: United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has described the drone attack on Saudi oil facilities “an act of war”, as President Donald Trump unveiled new sanctions on Iran. Pompeo visited Saudi Arabia, which presented pieces of weaponry it said connected Iran to the attack. The strike took out half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production, which saw prices spike before dropping again after Saudi reassurances that production had resumed. 

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“The newly elected Gladys Liu, the first Chinese-born member of the house of representatives, displayed extraordinary ineptness in an interview with Sky News’s Andrew Bolt. She gave the interview without checking with the prime minister’s office. Bolt’s performance reminded everyone of Malcolm Turnbull’s lament: with friends like Andrew Bolt, who needs enemies?” 


“Mary Pershall, a slight, softly spoken woman in a black jacket and floral print blouse, is telling the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System the story of her daughter Anna’s lifelong struggle with mental illness. It begins with ‘a delightful little happy child’ with a vivid imagination, who invented fantasies about the little spiders she would find in the school grounds; it reaches its tragic climax after two decades of spiralling ill health, addiction and psychosis, with the police phoning the family home. ‘For so long we’d expected a call to say that she was dead,’ says Pershall, ‘but then we got a call instead to say that she’d killed someone else.’”


“After Australia humbled New Zealand in the Bledisloe Cup opener in Perth last month, the sun shone brightly on a troubled team. The Wallabies had beaten the All Blacks 47-26, racking up the highest score by any nation in a Test against the world champions. Just six weeks before the Rugby World Cup in Japan, hope burst forth. Belief flowered. Praise flowed. Celebrations ensued. It was a false dawn.”


“The chief executives of Australia’s major airlines have warned they will not be silent on social issues, with Qantas’s Alan Joyce arguing it was not just ‘morally right’ but also in its business interests to fight for marriage equality. At the National Press Club on Wednesday Joyce and Virgin Australia’s Paul Scurrah both pushed back against calls from Scott Morrison and his assistant minister, Ben Morton, for corporates to resist social campaigning on issues including the environment.”


“Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has spoken out against climate change hysteria and ‘flight shaming’, saying additional taxes on airlines could take the world back to the 1920s. Climate change events were on the increase, he added, pointing to Europe’s recent record heatwave, but he warned against ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater.’”


“For most of human history, people thought nothing of crowding family members or friends into the same bed … The 16th-century English poet Andrew Buckley complained of bedmates who ‘buck and babble, some commeth drunk to bed.’ Then there was the Great Bed of Ware — a massive bed kept in an inn in a small town in central England. Built with richly decorated oak around 1590, the four-post bed is about the size of two modern double beds. Twenty-six butchers and their wives — a total of 52 people — are said to have spent a night in the Great Bed in 1689.”


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