Wednesday, June 17, 2020

National takeover of Victorian Labor

The Australian Labor Party’s national executive will stage a dramatic intervention into the Victorian division, seizing control of all state and federal preselections for three years. Former Victorian premier Steve Bracks and former federal deputy leader Jenny Macklin will take charge of the branch as administrators until January and undertake a review into voting rolls affected by branch stacking. Premier Daniel Andrews wrote to the national executive asking that all voting rights in the state branch be suspended until “at least” 2023, reports The Age. On Tuesday Marlene Kairouz became the third cabinet minister to fall in connection to the branch stacking scandal, which could be linked to up to a quarter of Victoria's 16,000 ALP members. The scandal began when covert recordings of now-sacked minister Adem Somyurek linked him to the practice of branch stacking, which involves signing up illegitimate members to influence votes to determine election candidates.  

At midnight South Australia’s borders were reopened to Western Australia, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory, as the state looks to rejuvenate its ailing tourism sector.  Travellers from those jurisdictions no longer need to isolate themselves for 14 days, and police checkpoints along the WA and NT borders have been removed. SA on Tuesday recorded 21 days straight of no new Covid-19 cases. The move comes despite the other states and territories not reciprocating, with SA Premier Steven Marshall telling The Advertiser “someone has to go first”.  WA Premier Mark McGowan said his advice was that opening up to some states and not others is unconstitutional. Marshall also commented on the violent arrest of an Indigenous man in the state on Tuesday, confirming that SA police have launched an internal investigation into the incident that activists have labelled a “clear case of racial profiling”.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson charged taxpayers $3700 for a three-night trip to Perth where she held $5000-a-head dinners for One Nation donors and a $20 “fish and chip” fundraiser supported by far-right extremists the Proud Boys. Hanson reportedly used some of the trip to search for and announce local One Nation candidates in Western Australia, according to Guardian Australia. The website also reports that former South Australian senator Cory Bernardi charged taxpayers for a $2500 trip to Sydney on the day of a fundraiser for his Australian Conservatives party in 2017.

Elaine Pearson, Australia director at Human Rights Watch, has called on the Australian Government to create “quick pathways” for Hong Kong residents to escape persecution. According to the ABC at least 62 Hong Kong SAR passport holders have applied for temporary protection visas in Australia onshore since November last year, as crackdowns on protests intensified. They include 18 applications in November, 27 in March and 17 in April. In November and January, a small number of Hongkongers — fewer than five each month — were denied a final protection visa. It comes as Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam labels opponents of Beijing's plan to impose national security legislation on the city as “the enemy of the people”. Meanwhile, China and India have engaged in their first deadly clash in the disputed Kashmir border region in decades, with Indian officials claiming at least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a clash with Chinese forces in Ladakh.


“During their seven years on Nauru, Salah and Mustafa have each held on to a singular focus to help them survive. For Mustafa, it’s training. He spends two hours each day doing rigorously planned workouts. He compares it to growing a flower: you have to keep watering it so it grows, and if you stop it will die ... ‘I love it because it makes me so strong: mentally, physically, emotionally,’ he says. ‘This sport is not just about lifting weights, it makes your mind strong.’”


“It could be made no clearer that Australia needs a formal process of truth-telling than when the prime minister says ‘there was no slavery’ in this country. Is it possible that he does not know? Could he truly be ignorant to the legacy of blackbirding, to the fact that Aboriginal people were forced into indentured servitude well into the 20th century?”


“Not long after, Abbott staged a successful coup over Turnbull’s willingness to support Rudd’s climate legislation after having negotiated certain concessions. Turnbull tells us in A Bigger Picture that he had learnt his lesson. He needed to be more pragmatic. Politics was indeed ‘the art of the possible’; results were what mattered. Perhaps he learnt this lesson too well. Perhaps it was the wrong lesson.”


“The news media has treated informing the public about the pandemic as a social responsibility. While the traditional emphasis on conflict and sensationalism has featured in the coverage, many news outlets have focused on providing constructive information from authoritative sources rather than generating clickbait and fuelling dissent ... The challenge will be for news organisations to try to extend this extra trust in reporting on the coronavirus to news coverage more broadly.”


“Sometimes I see the writing world today as the people on the decks of the Titanic: some are the musicians, playing their traditional refrains, comforting us all as the ship goes down; others are looking about, wondering at human nature, the weird things happening and the spectacular icebergs all around; some are trying to organise lifeboats while dispensing key life advice; and a few are thinking ahead because they can see there aren’t enough lifeboats and not everyone’s going to make it.”


“Honk your horns and smash your wipers for this cracking Aussie bill! The drive-in concert is a social-distancing success that's travelled from Denmark to Down Under … Say hello to The Drive-In, which is hosting three weekend's worth of large-scale concerts amid the bowling lanes of Flemington Racecourse.”

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