Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Crossbench warms to union crackdown

The Morrison government appears on the verge of passing its union-busting legislation, with Senate crossbenchers agreeing to extend sitting hours to debate the laws. Having already secured the support of Centre Alliance, the government needs the support of either One Nation, or Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie to pass the legislation, which would make it easier to deregister unions and ban officials. The laws could be debated until midnight tonight, with the possibility of passage on Thursday. Labor senator Penny Wong said the Ensuring Integrity Bill was “about taking down the union movement so you can go after their pay and conditions”. One Nation leader Pauline Hanson told Sky News on Tuesday morning that while she was still consulting with unions, she was convinced amendments to the bill would protect ordinary members from disqualification. Lambie has confirmed she will vote in favour of the bill, unless controversial union boss John Setka resigns from the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union. She will, however, not support government plans to expand the cashless debit card scheme this year, reports 7News. The Senate is also set to debate the Medevac repeal bill. 

Westpac fallout: Westpac demoted its anti-money laundering reporting officer after she informed the bank that it faced the largest fine in corporate history, reports The Australian Financial Review ($). Amanda Wood, who led the bank's response to the investigation into money-laundering allegations over 10 months, was told she didn't have the skills for the job after she made the claim. Fallout from the scandal continues, with The Australian reporting that Westpac will be ruled out ($) as a lender for the ­Morrison government’s first-home loan deposit scheme, and that the $170 billion Future Fund and other investors are threatening to force a spill of the entire board ($) unless more directors join chief executive Brian Hartzer in leaving the bank.

Climate protest: Hundreds of climate activists including members of Extinction Rebellion are set to blockade a major mining and resources conference in Perth today. West Australian police are planning the biggest security operation seen in Perth since the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2011. The news comes as a new United Nations report warns that even if all commitments made as part of the Paris climate accord were implemented, temperatures would likely rise between 3.4-3.9 degrees C this century, bringing catastrophic climate change, and that “rapid and transformational” change is needed now

Sex work decriminalised: The Northern Territory Parliament on Tuesday evening voted 16-5 to decriminalise sex work. The new laws mean brothels, soliciting and home-based sex work are no longer illegal. The move comes weeks after the South Australian Parliament voted against similar decriminalisation measures.

The politicians fighting to bring Assange home
As Julian Assange fights against extradition to the United States, an unlikely group of politicians is working to have him returned to Australia. Rick Morton on the question of law that underpins his case.


“Ridd justifies his position by arguing that science itself is fundamentally broken. He refers continually to the replication crisis – a debate about the fact that conclusions in a significant number of scientific studies, in fields unrelated to climate or the reef, are difficult or impossible to reproduce, and are therefore suspect. ‘We’re using the replication crisis to convince the politicians that, you know, if you’ve got a problem in medical science, why haven’t you got a problem with Great Barrier Reef science,’ he tells his Clintel audience. ‘The replication crisis is a dagger at the heart of the climate alarmists and Great Barrier Reef alarmists.’”


“Australia and China have got rich together. For Australia, that is quite enough. But China’s government wants more. As much power and influence over Australia as it can possibly get, using fair means or foul. But ... what Beijing can get is limited not only by China’s abilities, but also by Australia’s will. In each case where Chinese officials or agents attempted to intrude, they met Australian resistance. And failed. For all its power, China is neither all-powerful nor irresistible. Australia can shape its engagement with Beijing.”


“The lessons of women’s tennis and soccer weigh heavily on Prue Gilbert, chief executive of Grace Papers and, until recently, a member of the AFL Players’ Association’s AFLW advisory group ...  While a revised CBA was recently agreed to, Gilbert believes many AFLW players have not been given access to information that sets out their rights under sex discrimination legislation. ‘Perhaps it’s time,’ she says, ‘for the codes to align and establish a women’s football or sport association, creating a collective voice to advocate for women in sport.’”


“In a sign of Beijing’s determined quest to boost its international influence, China is outstripping the United States in diplomatic reach for the first time, boasting more embassies and consulates around the world than Washington. China has jumped from third to first in the Lowy Institute’s ‘Global Diplomacy Index’ over the last three years with a net gain of five embassies, making a total of 276 posts. The US, by contrast has lost a post and has 273, while more than 25 per cent of key state department positions remain unfilled.”


“Kevin Rudd says the Coalition ‘opened the door’ to Chinese influence in the South Pacific by slashing the aid budget and retreating on climate change action … ‘Abbott also collapsed Australia’s aid effort into the South Pacific, virtually cutting it in half from our period in office, and in doing so the Liberal government opened the door to the region for China,’ Rudd said. ‘This was an utterly reckless act with long-term national security consequences for Australia.’”


“In the yard of his home in northern Gaza, al-Shenbari stood a chair on one leg, propped two gas canisters on a slanted pipe wrench and balanced an upside-down TV screen on the rim of a Coke bottle. ‘You just need to know the fulcrum of the object and you get it,’ he said. A fitness and bodybuilding coach, al-Shenbari says his healthy lifestyle helped him slowly develop ‘the great focus’ required to balance the objects. ‘When I do this, I feel something indescribable; like a magnet drawing out energy from me toward the objects,’ he said after he stacked four oddly angled cans of beans on a wood frame hanging off a tree.”

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