Friday, November 29, 2019

Westpac double standard inspires crossbench revolt

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson said an inadequate response to the Westpac scandal prompted her surprise blocking of the Morrison government’s crackdown on unions. Hanson, who with fellow One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts, unexpectedly voted with Labor, the Greens, and independent Jacqui Lambie against the reforms after the government had accepted her amendments to the bill, said the Prime Minister’s handling of the Westpac money-laundering scandal was “not good enough”. “Clean up the white-collar crime, go after the banking officials and prove to the people of Australia that you're here for everyone,” Hanson said. Labor and unions had made the Westpac comparison a key element of the campaign against the legislation. Attorney-General Christian Porter said the government intended to reintroduce it “at an appropriate time” in the future. “It's for Pauline Hanson to explain why she voted against a bill that met every requirement she sought through extensive consultation,” Porter said.

Medevac repeal: The defeat on unions comes ahead of the Morrison government attempt to win the crossbench over to its repeal of medical evacuation laws for asylum seekers. Lambie said she was willing to support the rollback provided one condition was met, which she would not discuss publicly. “There's a game of trust there between myself, the PM and Minister Dutton and I will not put that at risk,” she said on Thursday. Media reports tied the condition to resettling asylum seekers in offshore detention in New Zealand. In news related to medevac, the Federal Court has unanimously dismissed a federal government appeal against a ruling that the government must consider medical transfer applications from asylum seekers in Nauru who have been prevented from having teleconsultations with Australian doctors. The Nauruan government had imposed regulations keeping refugees from consulting with doctors registered overseas. The Human Rights Law Centre said the Federal Court’s unanimous ruling on Thursday highlights the government’s “bloody-mindedness”. 

Labor blocks Taylor travel: Guardian Australia reports that Labor has denied Environment Minister Angus Taylor a parliamentary pair to attend energy and climate events in Europe next week, due to the police investigation into the origins of a doctored document he used to attack the lord mayor of Sydney. Meanwhile, The Age reports that Trade Minister Simon Birmingham intends to fight back against a French initiative to force Australia to adopt climate change targets in free-trade negotiations with the European Union. “We're completely committed to meeting our [Paris climate] targets and we've always met and exceeded our targets, but I think it would be unprecedented to see those type of provisions proposed in an agreement,” he said. The European Parliament on Thursday voted to formally declare a climate emergency, ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference starting in Madrid next week. In the United Kingdom election, Channel 4 held a leaders debate on climate change, with the absent Prime Minister Boris Johnson represented by a melting ice sculpture.  

Verbeek death: Former Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek has died at the age of 63 after a years-long struggle with cancer. The Dutchman led Australia through qualification to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. In 2016 he took on his final role in the game, as the coach of Oman.

Defending Angus Taylor (the lone wolf and the albatross)
Scott Morrison has put himself in a difficult position, calling the NSW police commissioner to check on an investigation into his own minister. Paul Bongiorno on the questions that need to be answered.


“The image of Scott Morrison brandishing a lump of coal in the house of representatives has become emblematic of his government’s hostility to renewable energy. Most people with even a passing interest in the climate crisis will recall the pictures of the then treasurer grinning and passing around the black rock, supplied by the Minerals Council of Australia and lacquered to avoid MPs getting their hands dirty. Some may also recall his mocking words, addressed to the other side of the parliament: ‘This is coal. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be scared.’”


“He shed the clean-cut image by rubbing mud on his face and temporarily staining his teeth rotten to audition for the American horror film remake House of Wax. Starring celebrity hotel heiress Paris Hilton, that film is notable for racking up a multimillion-dollar damage bill in 2004, after a fire – started by a huge candle – burned down an entire sound stage at Movie World on the Gold Coast, forcing the actors and crew to flee. House of Wax also set Herriman’s career alight in the United States.”


“‘There are no climate change deniers around here,’ says Rupert Murdoch. ‘I can assure you.’ Except at The Australian: ‘Yes we have an early fire season, because we are in a drought, a bad drought, in some areas it is the worst since the Federation drought. There’s your clue, we had as bad or worse in the 1890s and 1900s.’”


“Ms Colvin, who runs a salon on Bribie Island north of Brisbane, said she'd helped 139 people since starting Hairdressers for Hearts three years ago. With the help of domestic violence experts, she has developed an online training course aimed at teaching hairdressers, barbers and beauty therapists how to recognise the signs of abuse, know what to say and point clients in the right direction for support.”


“There are the hardened criminals. The patched gang members. The older men who watched their father beat their mother before turning on them. The young boys whose mothers drink and tell them they are unwanted. The alcoholics, the drug addicts, the gamblers. They all take their seat in New Zealand barber Matt Brown’s chair. And they talk. And Brown listens, offers advice and support where he can and, hopefully, help his customers turn their lives around. ‘I am a good listener,’ says Brown.”


“Criminals on the dark web are offering huge discounts on drugs, stolen credit cards and hacking tools for Black Friday 2019 ... More than 1,600 posts about ‘Black Friday 2019’ have appeared on criminal forums over the last few weeks, according to data from cyber risk firm Digital Shadows. Offers range from a 30 per cent discount across all items listed on the site, to extra discounts for buyers who spend over $2,000 in one go.”

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