Monday, November 04, 2019

Trump defence cites Turnbull phone call secrecy

The leaked phone call between Malcolm Turnbull and Donald Trump is to become a key part of the United States President’s defence against impeachment, according to Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon. In an interview with The Australian ($), Bannon said Republicans intend to make the case that the leaking to the media of the Turnbull-Trump argument over an refugee-swap deal was the reason the White House started restricting recordings of phone calls with foreign leaders. One question the impeachment investigation will consider is why the record of the controversial phone call between Trump and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky was moved to a restricted server. “We said at that time ‘this has to be really restricted for people like Malcolm Turnbull to feel that they can have an open and direct conversation with the President’,” Bannon said. Trump on Sunday dismissed polls that show growing support for impeachment among Americans as “fake” and that he has “the real polls”. The news comes as Buzzfeed News reports that Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign chairman Paul Manafort pushed the unfounded conspiracy theory that Ukraine rather than Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee's emails.

Aged care chemical restraints: Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has promised to address the drugging of the elderly in aged care homes, but did not provide specific details. The Royal Commission into Aged Care last week condemned the practice and urged immediate action. On the ABC's Insiders program on Sunday, Hunt pledged to address that issue and others highlighted by the interim report, saying “this is the moment, this is the line in the sand, together, where we change the way that Australians deal with ageing in what is, by definition, an ageing society". Labor has launched a new campaign targeting the government over aged care funding cuts.

East Asia Summit: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has told Prime Minister Scott Morrison he is ready ”to work with the Australian side to keep our relationship on the right track”, at a meeting on Sunday on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Bangkok. Today Morrison will shift his attention from defusing Chinese tension over human rights to pushing negotiations forward on an Asian trade pact set to include all 10 ASEAN nations as well as China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. India's resistance to removing agricultural tariffs is proving a barrier to a deal, which The Australian Financial Review reports ($) could go ahead in India’s absence. The summit will also host discussions on development of a code of conduct in the contested South China Sea.

Record tennis prize: Australian tennis world No. 1 Ash Barty has defeated defending champion Elina Svitolina in straight sets to win the Women’s Tennis Association Finals in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen on Sunday. Barty won 6-4, 6-3, to earn $6.4 million, the largest payout ever awarded in men’s or women’s tennis. 

Looking for Albanese
Anthony Albanese was shaped by the circumstances of his childhood. The question now is if his working-class background can help Labor reconnect to its working-class base. James Button on making sense of the leader of the Opposition.


“Water whistleblowers will be protected, and obstructionist public officials sanctioned, under powers enabling the new Murray–Darling Basin inspector-general, Mick Keelty, to tackle corruption and overextraction in the nation’s largest river system ... The Saturday Paper has confirmed separately that such obstruction would be considered a criminal offence and the failure to co-operate and supply information would be likely to attract financial penalties or jail.”


“Who else but that old master of political imagery Paul Keating could sum it all up so colourfully? The Australian economy is stagnant, and he says the Morrison government can’t do anything about it because the Liberal Party has a ‘surplus virus’ in its bloodstream. The former treasurer and prime minister, credited as a great economic reformer, says ‘the economy is … like the car idling at the lights and waiting for the lights to turn green to take off again’.”


“When he talks about bushfires the easy laughter leaves Shane Fitzsimmons and he is intent and systematic. His words are urgent; his expression, solemn. Fire management, he tells me, is complex, difficult and extremely emotive. Fire is different from any other hazard or disaster: it has a high-risk tempo and an intensity that is unique. Unlike with storms or earthquakes, you’re not dealing with the consequences – managing fire means you’re making decisions as it ignites and flares in front of you.”


“Victoria police have expressed ‘extreme disappointment’ at the behaviour of two officers involved in policing climate change protests in Melbourne last week, after one was photographed with a sticker on his body camera and another was discovered to have posted ‘inappropriate memes’ on his social media. The same officer who posted the memes, which included Pepe the frog, was criticised this week after he was photographed making a hand gesture that Victoria police deny was the ‘white power’ symbol.”


“The eastern German city of Dresden has declared a ‘Nazi emergency’ as officials warned of a rise in far-right support and violence. The city is the birthplace of the Islamophobic Pegida movement, which holds weekly rallies here, while the anti-immigration Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) party won 28 per cent in September regional elections. Dresden's city council has now backed a resolution against far-right extremism with the title ‘Nazinotstand?’, or ‘Nazi emergency?’.”


“Why couldn’t Ken have a penis? The answer, it turns out, is intricate and somewhat bizarre. Ken was not merely dickless by default; the bulge was the result of careful strategizing to which his inventors, businessmen, a psychologist, and Japanese manufacturers all contributed. Despite all this planning, Ken still came to represent things his parent company never intended, as icons tend to do.”

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