Thursday, June 18, 2020

Pacific exercises as China tensions rise

Australian troops and warships will join major military exercises ($) with the US and Pacific allies, as China and India seek to de-escalate following a violent border confrontation. Australia is planning to participate in joint exercises in Hawaii and Guam, and is expecting an invitation from India to participate in naval exercises in the Bay of Bengal, reports The Australian. It comes as Chinese officials say that the country has agreed with India to peacefully resolve their Himalayan border confrontation, which left at least 20 soldiers dead. The relationship between Australia and China continues to deteriorate, with Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian responding to Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s accusation that China is using social media to spread disinformation online regarding racism against Chinese students in Australia, claiming “disinformation is Australia’s expertise”. He said Australia needed to listen to the voices of victims and face up to the problem.  

Former Victorian minister Adem Somyurek has released a series of private text messages to the media in apparent payback over his ousting from the Andrews government. In the messages, leaked to both The Age and The Australian ($), federal Labor MP Anthony Byrne called former colleague Sam Dastyari a "crooked, corrupt f---", called an unnamed female Labor activist a “ratf---er” and said he wanted to “piss on ... the corpse” of former Left faction powerbroker Alan Griffin. The release came after Byrne to assist inquiries over branch stacking in the Victorian ALP, which featured in leaked video recorded in his office. The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission, Victoria’s corruption watchdog, on Wednesday confirmed it would investigate “serious allegations of corrupt conduct” in the party.

Police in South Australia are investigating an officer over a racist social media post directed at Sudanese-Australian lawyer and human rights advocate Nyadol Nyuon. A Facebook message was sent to Nyuon on Monday evening, a week after appearing as a guest on the ABC's Q+A program. The message told her “If it's so f---ing bad here f--- off back to the war-torn s--thole country you came from.” The move comes after Police Commissioner Grant Stevens denied systemic racism within the police force, as experts labelled the violent arrest of an Indigenous man on Monday as a case of racial profiling. 

About 350 international students will come to Canberra on a charter flight from an Asian airline hub next month under a planned pilot program. Students will quarantine for two weeks in hotels, with flight costs to be shared by students and universities. The quarantine accommodation and support will be funded by the universities, while logistical support will be provided by the ACT. South Australia has announced a separate plan to bring in 800 overseas students. Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan commended the plans, stipulating that he would support the return of international students when a given state or territory opened its borders to domestic travel and the university campus is open for on-campus learning for domestic students.


“The New South Wales government prepared a confidential report congratulating itself on how it managed the March 19 arrival of the Ruby Princess cruise ship, which was responsible for the largest single outbreak of Covid-19 in Australia, including 26 deaths here and overseas. The undated and unattributed report, which was tendered into evidence at the Ruby Princess inquiry this week, appears to blame the federal government for what became at least 1000 Covid-19 cases.”


“Research shows about half of all females in their teens taking part in sport will drop out by the age of 15 – and that was before coronavirus became an unwelcome new player in the participation game. With the impact of the pandemic on activity levels and numbers still as uncertain as restart dates in Victoria and other states, will young women be the biggest losers as resources dwindle? And how many teens whose commitment was already wavering will take this enforced break and then run, or at least walk, the other way?”


“Not surprisingly, this worsening schism between the West and communist-led China, and growing talk of defending values and democracy, is fuelling suggestions that the world is facing a second Cold War ... But such suggestions are misleading. Today, unlike during the Cold War, there is no iron curtain, no sharp divide separating the West from its communist rival. For instance, even as Beijing tries to intimidate and punish Canberra, iron ore is flowing abundantly from the Pilbara to Chinese ports.”


“Scott Morrison says ‘we shouldn’t be importing’ the Black Lives Matter movement. But in the 1800s, Australia imported plantation owners from the American South … Plantation owners turned to the Pacific Islands to ensure a steady supply of indentured labour.”



“About 15,000 people are subject to modern slavery in Australia, including sex trafficking, forced marriage and forced labour. Cases of forced labour predominantly occur in industries such as agriculture, construction, domestic work, meat processing, cleaning, hospitality and food services. Even more people are enslaved through the supply chains of Australian companies operating overseas.”


“As factories retooled from making weapons to consumer products after the Second World War, handgun-sized handles proved an easy conversion. The industrial miracles in post-war Germany, France and Italy led to an outpouring of new designs and the growth of the companies that still dominate top-end production. From Gio Ponti to Arne Jacobsen, every decent architect and industrial designer had a go at a handle.”

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