Friday, May 29, 2020

Australia condemns HK security laws

Australia has joined the United States in condemning new laws approved by China’s national congress to impose national security legislation on Hong Kong. The National People’s Congress of China voted 2878 to 1 to advance with alteration to the former British colony’s mini-constitution, in a move Beijing says will address secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in the city. Australia issued a joint statement together with the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada warning the move breaches the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration which sets out Hong Kong's partial autonomy. Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam said the law would not affect the rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong residents, but Jeremy Tam, a member of Hong Kong's Legislative Council, warns it introduces vague “thought crimes”. Details of the law are expected to be drawn up in coming weeks and it is expected to be enacted before September.

In the first national cabinet meeting in two weeks, Prime Minister Scott Morrison will today review the impact of social distancing restrictions with state and territory leaders. Relaxing state travel bans and discussions around expanding JobKeeper are expected to be on the agenda, along with making the cabinet a permanent feature ($). Meanwhile New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian is today expected to announce further relaxation of social distancing restrictions. Starting from June 1, up to 50 people will be allowed to gather inside places of worship, but be prohibited from singing and passing around a collection plate. Up to 50 people will also be allowed to attend funerals, with up to 20 guests at weddings.

Bulgaria’s highest appeals court has dismissed a request by the former chief prosecutor to review the parole granted to Australian Jock Palfreeman, who was convicted of murder in 2009 after a street melee in Sofia, meaning he is now free to leave the country. Palfreeman said he had not made any plans to return to Australia, claiming the Bulgarian government was still refusing “to allow me to leave despite it not being legal”.

The Parramatta Eels defeated the Brisbane Broncos 34-6 on Thursday night, as the National Rugby League competition returned after a 67-day pause due to the Covid-19 shutdown. One of the first major sports leagues to return to action globally, the NRL deployed cardboard spectators advertising beer in the empty Suncorp Stadium, and broadcasters experimented with fake crowd noises. The NRL is controversially pushing for crowds to be allowed from July 1, a prospect that Australian Medical Association president Dr Tony Bartone described as “absurd and dangerous”. Shortly before the match the financially stricken competition announced a new broadcast deal with Nine and Fox Sports until the end of 2027.


“Treasury officials were questioned on the business connections of Dr Henry Cheng ... Specifically, they were asked about his business ties to Chinese gambling moguls Stanley and Lawrence Ho, who have been banned, according to news reports, from investing in Crown’s casino development at Sydney’s Barangaroo because of organised crime links. ‘Is this the first time that you’ve become aware of this?’ Labor senator and acting committee chair Deborah O’Neill asked.”


“And the mystery of eels is an enduring one. Aristotle himself dissected a great many eels in a vain search for reproductive organs. Finding none – because they are very hard to find – the father of comparative anatomy and physiology concluded that eels must be spontaneously brought into existence by the combination of mud and rain.”


“Has anyone volunteered any information on the hotline that might be compromising, or made to look compromising? There’s nothing else? Isn’t there another tier, another catchment, another level of oversight? And that’s confirmed, is it? Couldn’t we blur the lines a bit? Would that make any difference? Could we maybe draw attention to the problem of the leak itself? What was the name of that intern we had, you know, the uptight one?”


“Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has abandoned local and regional news audiences in Australia, with the announcement it will stop printing more than 100 community and regional print titles across the country. It brings the number of contractions — newsroom closures, mergers and print reductions and suspensions — in Australia's public interest news landscape to more than 200 since January last year.”


“Digital-only publications are problematic in areas of rural and regional Australia that struggle with broadband connectivity. It’s even more worrisome for those areas with ageing populations … without the newspaper and technological capabilities, they feel ‘lost’. And importantly, they can’t read the death notices, so have no idea who has died.”

“This was a three-part series that went back to Christchurch a year after the far-right terrorist attack there. It was also a kind of memoir for our editor, Osman Faruqi. It showed what really happens after an attack – to the people there, and elsewhere.”
— Erik Jensen, editor-in-chief

Favourite episode:
White terror, part one: 35 widows


“Two men hired to carry out a stranger’s sexual fantasy of being tied up while clad in his underpants went to the wrong NSW rural address with machetes - but politely left after realising their mistake … the resident turned on his bedside light, took off his sleep apnoea mask, and saw two men standing next to his bed ... One man apologised, saying ‘Sorry mate’, and shook the resident’s hand, while the other said ‘Bye’ before they drove off. The resident then contacted police.”

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